With a bird in the hand, the San Francisco Giants decided that the two in the bush weren’t valuable enough to put the entire future in jeopardy.
Although the team was in on a lot of players during the winter meetings, they didn’t catch any big fish, but they had already caught themselves a shark.
As Jeff Samardzija was introduced to the media today, the team had to feel pretty good about what type of arm they acquired. He’s going to give you 200+ innings a year, and has a frame built for endurance. That goes a long way in discussions and long-term deals. They know he is less likely to break down.
He is also a pitcher who should rebound and have an ERA closer to high threes than high fours. Last year he ballooned to a 4.96 ERA, but with a better defense behind him and more spacious surroundings at AT&T Park, it should come down considerably.
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Looking at a possible comparable to him from the past would be Mike Scott. He was a Houston Astros pitcher who started with the New York Mets. After middling success early on, he found his groove around the age of thirty, and enjoyed a good 5-year run with the Astros. I remember 1986 Mike Scott, and I wouldn’t mind very much having that Mike Scott right now.
Also, being a former Notre Dame wide receiver, he is a solid athlete with decent speed, so don’t look for an easy out up at the plate.
As for the rest of the shopping list.
The team still is in search of another reliable arm to provide depth in the rotation. Mike Leake‘s name continues to be out there as do Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir. But Cueto would require more money than Samardzija, and the team doesn’t look like it will spend that much on another starter. Leake is still a possibility, as he would like to stay on western part of the country. Kazmir is intriguing for the right price.
The outfield is also still an area of need. The team sounds as if they are comfortable with going into the season with Gregor Blanco and a combination of youngsters. But it is probable that if they don’t find someone through free agency (Alex Gordon, Dexter Fowler, Yoenis Cespedes, and Justin Upton), they may enter the trade market. After Jason Heyward signed with the Chicago Cubs, the competition will heat up for the remaining outfielders.
The names that are likely available to trade for would be the Cincinnati Reds Jay Bruce or maybe Todd Frazier. Bruce plays right field for the Reds, but should be able to transfer over to left. Frazier is the reigning All-Star third baseman, but has some experience in the outfield earlier in his career. Bruce would hit 20-25 home runs, and Frazier 25-30.
Another possibility could be Carlos Gonzalez. His numbers bounced back very well last year hitting 40 home runs with the Colorado Rockies, and the Rockies are said to be open to a trade. But there are more roadblocks with trading within the division, as you would be giving up several quality assets that you could be playing against in the future.
If the window was closing on the Giants, and they needed to win now without any regard for the years ahead, then maybe you take the chance. But this is precisely how you keep that window open, by not mortgaging the future.
*Moving into the post-meetings part of the hot stove, it will be patience that continues to pay off for the team.
Being “in on” a few of the top names in free agency doesn’t mean that the team was prepared to make a rash move if it didn’t make sense.
Think of it like the current crop of players is your checking account, which you se and use every day. Then the prospects in your system is like your savings account, which your really not supposed to touch. You cultivate that, and when you need more money or a new item, you use it. Most teams like to use up their savings each year, then try to recover some of that money halfway through the season when it doesn’t work out.
Just look at the San Diego Padres last year. Are the Arizona Diamondbacks going to gel right away? Are the fans going to have patience for that?
Taking the chance that your team will come together as opposed to allowing it to grow together is a lot to ask. And with the carousel of managers these days, it is no wonder why teams that win consistently have stability in the front office on down.
It’s much tougher these days to do a build up-tear down project like the Miami Marlins (then-Florida) did back in 1997. You risk losing long term fans if you do that, so it’s best to cultivate young talent, and fill in the one or two positions that become open.
So the path that the team is taking is best. Don’t hamstring yourself financially with contracts that you can’t justify to your current players. And don’t give up players who are a year or two away from making it to the big club, for a rental player who you hope has a career year to justify the trade.