With only five weeks elapsed since the end of the 2014 season, the San Francisco Giants are not only still in need of a left fielder and a fifth starting pitcher, they have added a third baseman to the list with the departure of Pablo Sandoval to the red pastures of Boston. With uncertainty hovering and a litany of names being bandied about, it would appear a brief summary is in order. America does love a scorecard.
Jon Lester leads the parade in the glitziest float and rightfully so, because if the Giants secure his services, it will cost far more than the 95 million they were using to lure Pablo back into the fold. Currently, with the Braves having lagged far behind the competition, the four bidders listed in no particular order are the Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and late-entry Los Angeles Dodgers.
Whereas Boston might be at the top of the list, conjecture suggests unhappiness may still prevail over the somewhat insulting 70 million/four year deal that Boston offered Lester prior to the start of the 2014 season. Respect seems to be a recurring theme this offseason.
Cubs president Theo Epstein, former Red Sox GM, is the attraction for Lester in Chicago as the two would be reunited from their days in Boston. San Francisco sent Bruce Bochy to Atlanta to pitch the Giants, with Atlanta neighbor Tim Hudson giving Lester a call later on Monday afternoon, once the Bochy contingent had marched out of Atlanta.
Finally, while the Dodgers do not have an inside track as far as personnel is concerned, they do have the advantage in terms of being able to offer Lester more reasons than even the 138 million reasons over six years, that the Cubs are offering. The 8.3 billion dollar television deal the Dodgers have in place is hardly the only source of deep pockets available to the chorus of GM types, recently hired by Los Angeles to study the habits of the Giants and proceed accordingly. There is also Magic Johnson.
Shifting to left field, Melky Cabrera’s name just surfaced Thursday, as Giants fans were forced to confront the memory of a player who both thrilled them for two-thirds of a season, and then turned around and displayed a shocking lack of character, not generally associated with the Giants’ organization.
Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera would have to agree to set aside personal differences and unify for the common purpose of competing against LA.
Whether or notBuster Posey
and Company are willing to reach out and welcome Melky back into the compound has yet to be determined, but if the Giants are interested in being able to overtake L.A. in 2015, they will not let bad memories get in the way of a reunion.
Oct 22, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey sits in the dugout before game two of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Besides Cabrera, Michael Morse, due for a pay increase, is said to be seeking a contract far greater than the Giants are willing to pay for a guy with a lot of heart but insufficient defense to handle the rigors of AT&T Park.
Additionally, should the Giants decide to step outside the box, a shift of Brandon Belt from first base to left field would clear the way for Buster Posey to come out from behind the plate to handle either first base or even third. Otherwise, Gregor Blanco, Juan Perez, rookie Gary Brown and the recently-inked Travis Ishikawa are also possibilities for either the starting left field position or a back-up slot.
At third base discussion has centered on Chase Headley, coming off of a second lackluster season after his breakout year in 2012, and said to be seeking a comparable salary as Sandoval. It is highly unlikely San Francisco could afford both Jon Lester and Chase Headley, so once again matters with the Lester situation must take a priority over third base.
If Headley becomes a moot point, then choices include the aforementioned Posey, Joaquin Arias, rookies Adam Duvall, Chris Dominguez and Matt Duffy, or another selection from outside the organization, such as Philadelphia’s Maikel Franco or Martin Prado of the New York Yankees.
There are still eleven weeks before pitchers and catchers report to the desert on February 20th, so there is no rush, but if the Giants are to be able to contend with their nemesis from SoCal, they need to do a serious upgrade, and simply having Matt Cain and Angel Pagan back in the lineup does not constitute an upgrade. They will help immensely but the loss of the Panda is going to hurt, so a comparable acquisition really only puts San Francisco back at par.
As has been the case in recent memory, Brian Sabean will figure out a way to get it done; it’s what he gets paid the big bucks to do. Giants fans can speculate from now until Christmas and then onto Valentines Day, for all that it matters, because that is what they get paid the big bucks to do.
In the end the additions and subtractions will all factor into the chemistry equation, and if recent past practices prevail, the Orange and Black will find a way to give Los Angeles a run for its money. It’s a tough job but some team has got to do it, or else watch the Dodgers flail away in the postseason yet once again.
Even that has entertainment value but not as much as seeing another performance by Madison Bumgarner in the World Series.