This is not going to end pretty. Both Ross and Torres hold very special places in the hearts of many that bleed black and orange, so the thought that not only one but possibly both may be elsewhere going into 2012 is going to shed a few baseball tears.
First off, we’ll look at this from a positional need. With Carlos Beltran‘s status in the air, the Giants find themselves slightly handcuffed when it comes to Ross and Torres. Nate Schierholtz will be back, healthy, and has already been anointed a starting outfield spot from Bochy in the end of season presser. Granted, it did seem a bit odd to essentially give him a starting job when you have no idea of what your 2012 outfield will look like, but back to the point – Nate will be in the mix for a starting job assuming Beltran does return and will surely be given the right field job if Beltran does depart. Personally, if Beltran does return, I’d love to see Nate play CF but we’re a long way out from that and we’re talking about the futures of Ross and Torres.
With a returning Beltran, the Giants are looking at an outfield that consists of Beltran and Belt or Huff in the corners – potentially Nate, but possibly a free agent addition *gags*Coco Crisp*gags* in center. With a departed Beltran, the Giants are looking at an outfield that consists of Belt/Huff and Schierholtz in the corners and what we can assume will be a free agent addition in center. Sabean made it extremely clear in his end of season press conference that center field needed a change, but that doesn’t necessarily mean both Torres and Ross will be in other uniforms come 2012.
Unlike Ross, who’s simply a free agent, Andres Torres is arbitration eligible and stands to make about $2.5 million next season if he is tendered a contract. Ross on the otherhand is a wildcard. He’s obviously looking for a long term deal, one the Giants will not offer him – so is he willing to play for a $1-2 million dollar, 1 year contract? Possibly, but that’s assuming he gets zero interest on the market and given the fact he was a .260 hitter with 20 plus round trippers a year before he came to San Francisco – my guess is he’ll get some love out there from a team in need of cheap outfield help.
In his end of season presser, Brian Sabean completely ignored Andres Torres and made mention of Ross’ ability to potentially play center, an intriguing thought, but I can’t help but question if that was as much a tactic on Sabean’s part as it was a potential cheap CF resolution. The Giants brass, for whatever reason, likes to challenge their players by calling them out – Pablo, Bumgarner, Huff, Belt – and I think by not calling out Torres, much was said to Torres without saying a word.
The Giants know Torres provides them more than Cody Ross. He’s just as good of a hitter from an average perspective, he has the VROOOOOM which Ross lacks, and while he might be a bit behind on the power situation he’s a better and more versatile defender. Not to knock Ross’ defensive abilities, he’s certainly adequate but Torres plays a gold glove caliber defense in center – something the Giants need.
Brian Sabean and company will most certainly be in the market for a new center fielder – so bringing back Ross or Torres will be for a bench role. Taking that into account, you want a player who can be a great defensive replacement, solid bat off the bench and a potential speedy runner. For all that Ross can be, Torres skills in those particular areas are more beneficial to the Giants.
Depending on what the Giants do in free agency and how the Beltran situation plays out, both Ross and Torres may be on the outside looking in for 2012 but if the decision comes down to one or the other, and my assumption is that it will, I’d expect to see Torres back in San Francisco over Ross despite the currently cloudy outlook for the speedy Puerto Rican.
Who do you think will be back, Giant fans?