Clutch Home Runs

I just had to sneak a late post in tonight. The Gigantes snagged that elusive first sweep of the season after falling short in their first two tries (both against the big blue). This one came in pretty sweet fashion, with Brandon Hicks crushing a 3-run walkoff job into the left field seats. The only downside to the day was Ryan Vogelsong getting a no-decision after twirling 7 shutout innings on the day. I’d say Hicks’ big fly more than made up for it, but Giants starting pitchers haven’t really been rewarded with many W’s this month. Hey, that’s baseball sometimes, but you have to be impressed with Vogey. 2 hitter? Yes, please!

Speaking of impressed… wasn’t I just saying this morning that Hicks isn’t the long-term solution? No, one swing of the bat in April doesn’t hold a ton of weight, but when a non-roster invite does something like that, you can bet Brian Sabean sits up in his chair and takes notice. Nice work, Hick. Keep it up, and you can play on my team any day.

Most importantly, the Giants took a week that started off pretty rough, and finished it with a 4-game winning streak. Getting a sweep in interleague play isn’t too shabby; the AL has been pretty tough on our Gigantes in recent years (well, not in the postseason, or the All-Star game, but you get the point), so the club has to be feeling pretty good after finishing off Cleveland today. Don’t look now, but the orange and black are 15-10, sitting 1.5 games up on Colorado and the Dodgers. One more series to go in April, with the Fathers coming to town for an early-week series. Sounds like a pretty good opportunity to build on that 1st place record to me.  

This isn’t supposed to be a real long post, but I did want to note something. As mentioned this morning, the Giants are hitting home runs left and right so far in 2014. Will that trend keep up? It might be too early to tell, but it’s not too early to make this point: some of the most important big flies this month have come off the bat of some pretty unheralded guys. Brandon Crawford’s walk-off splash against the Rockies on the 13th; Hector Sanchez’ granny in Coors on Wednesday; Hicks’ game-ender this afternoon… those are some seriously clutch home runs, from a few guys who take a lot of heat from the fans.

For some reason, a large percentage of Giants’ faithful love to bash on Hector. He can’t catch. He can’t throw. He can’t take a walk. You know what? He sure can come up with the big hit… and he’s younger than just about any backup catcher in the league. Hicks, for all the praise he earned in spring training, really hasn’t made many friends among the fanbase with his up and down defense in the early going. He strikes out in pretty high numbers as well, and doesn’t hit for a very high average. But there are guys who play their whole career without doing what he did in the 9th inning today. And if you remember the video I posted back in February, today’s walk-off wasn’t the first for Brandon H, who also sent the folks home happy with a blast a couple of years ago with Oakland.

Crawford might get a little break because of his slick glove-work, but come on. How many people in the general fanbase really believed his bat was a serious threat coming into this season? Not as many as you might think.

What’s my point here? The Giants might not have the sexiest roster in the league, but they’re sure getting production from a lot of different players in the early going. When guys like Sanchez, Crawford and Hicks are hitting the clutch home runs, you’ve got a deep roster. Once again, Sabean’s overlooked offseason moves are paying off, and the Giants are playing good ball because of it. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be… underrated moves have helped the Giants win two World Series titles in this decade, despite drawing sneers from pundits all over baseball. Those pundits can keep on sneering, but I like where this team is headed.

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Giants Thumped by Seattle

Ok, maybe thumped is an understatement. But hey, turns out I didn’t miss much of a game yesterday. Not for the Giants, who surrendered 18 runs on 18 hits to the Mariners. The pitching had been pretty solid lately, but all good things must end. The way I look at it, if you’re going to have a game like this, you might as well get it out of the way when the scores still don’t matter.

A couple of notes here. There’s a lot of chatter about Ryan Vogelsong’s outing yesterday, as you would expect when a guy who struggled the previous season gets tagged for 7 runs in less than 3 innings of work. Yes, it would be very easy to look at Vogey’s line and ask if he’s got anything left in the tank. But having this blog has taught me more than anything not to settle for the easy answer – to look a little deeper.

Vogey gave up two 1st inning home runs, one to Brad Miller and the other to Michael Saunders. Both were two-run shots. I’ve watched the video of those home runs a few times, and I honestly didn’t see anything to be concerned about. The location really wasn’t bad. Both pitches were low and inside to a lefty hitter, and both hitters beat the pitch. And I’m not even sure either of those balls would be homers in any NL West park. They certainly wouldn’t have been in either AT&T or Safeco (the Mariners’ home). Both balls looked very wind-aided to me, especially Saunders’.

Long story short, I don’t think anyone should start sounding the alarm on Vogelsong after that performance yesterday. Does he have the same velocity he once did? Nope. Can he get by with 87-90? Maybe, but it’s way, way too early to make that determination right now.

These are just my opinions, and of course you may have a different one. But enough about that. So the Giants got waxed by a split-squad Mariners’ team that also put up 9 runs on the Dodgers last night, to the tune of four more home runs (2 from overweight Jesus Montero).

You know, the M’s did this last spring, and it really didn’t carry over to the regular season at all. A good friend of mine is a big Seattle fan, so I do pull for them. But unfortunately, 29 teams play their home games outside of Arizona, and you have to wonder if the Mariners’ front office even knows what it’s doing anymore… trying to build an offense with a bunch of thumpers to play in a severe pitchers park doesn’t sound like the best idea in the world to me.

Yesterday was a day to forget for all of us. So yes, let’s look ahead. Today is an exciting day for the organization, as Madison Bumgarner and Kyle Crick square off in a “futures game” intrasquad matchup. That should be a fun one, and I would imagine you’ll be able to find some video from that game over at Giant Potential when all is said and done. Conner P. is down in AZ right now, and he’s been giving us some sweet updates and footage from Giants minor league camp. Remember, his site is linked on the right.

In the day’s main event, we get to see Edwin Escobar match up with Clayton Kershaw. And guess what, it’s another MLBtv broadcast. I’m pretty stoked for this one, as it’ll be my first real look at Escobar. With Yusmeiro Petit struggling big time and David Huff still on the shelf, this is a huge opportunity for Esky to jump into the running for that long-man spot. Good luck, kid.

That’s all for now. I hope everyone has a relaxing, baseball-filled Sunday. And remember, today’s games start at 1 pm on the west coast, and 2 pm for those of us out here in Big Sky Country. 

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(SFGiantsPhotos.MLBBlogs.com)

More Spring Talk

It’s still winter at my house, but dang if I don’t have spring on the brain (almost every waking second) these days. Lots of people calling to the uncertainty facing the Giants as pitchers and catchers get ready to report to Scottsdale at the end of this week. I’m doing my best to steer clear of the negativity. I’m big on positive thoughts this time of year, folks. Personally, I’m excited to get this squad rolling. Lots of people to prove wrong this season, so let’s get to it!

We’ll keep this brief, but I wanted to mention a few things I’ve had on my mind lately. If you scan over to the right, you’ll see I posted some questions on Twitter earlier today (mostly so I wouldn’t forget them).

Question 1: How long is Vogey’s leash? It’s hard not to love Ryan Vogelsong because of what he’s done for the organization. His story is awesome, just plain awesome. But you either stopped watching altogether in September last year or you’re in some serious denial if you don’t remember his velocity dipping significantly down the stretch. A quick look at Brooks Baseball today showed what we all thought: Average fastball velocity of 92+ in September and October 2012, dropped to 87 in August and 88 in September 2013. WBC hangover? Rust from the injury time off? Only he knows, but I’d sure feel a lot better about some 90’s this spring. Something a little more like this…

Back to the question. If Vogey just doesn’t have it anymore (which is a very relevant question in my mind), does he still get the 5th spot in the rotation? What if Yusmeiro Petit or David Huff out-perform him? At their peak, Vogelsong is head and shoulders better than those two. But I don’t think we’re talking about peak performances anymore.

My take: I think Vogey would have to really, really fall apart (or never actually get going) to lose his spot this spring. The Giants wouldn’t have promised him the job if they didn’t think he could do it. Worst case scenario, he starts the year on the 15-day DL to see if the kinks come out, with Petit taking the #5 spot. Best case scenario, Vogey comes back well-rested and makes us forget this conversation even happened.

**Update**: I posted this question to Baggarly in his weekly chat this morning. Also told him I had a hunch the WBC played a much bigger role than we anticipated. His response: “I agree on the WBC. I think he’ll be given a bit of leash because that’s Bochy’s MO. But it’s all relative to the alternatives. If someone else like Escobar is blowing off doors, then I think Vogelsong’s leash would be shorter.” I’m starting to get the impression that Baggs’ thinks pretty highly of these kids. He mentions Escobar and Derek Law a ton. Said he’s most excited to see Law’s power curve in camp. Hearing things like that gets me pretty excited, as I believe Baggs’ views are often a strong reflection of the organization’s.

Question 2: Will there be a surprise competitor in the bullpen race?

There are at least two relief spots open heading into camp, maybe three if you include Petit and the long-man role. At this point, there are too many guys to count that are vying for these spots. I’ll have some profiles up in the next couple of weeks so we can keep everything straight. The obvious favorites (in my estimation) are Jean Machi and Heath Hembree, but George Kontos and Jake Dunning will get some long looks. Machi looks like he’s slimmed down, and he’s been working away as the closer for the Venezuelan team in the Caribbean Series.

Ok, maybe he hasn’t slimmed down THAT much…

So, any surprises? Everyone’s talking about Derek Law. I’d love to see him break through. Love it. But I just don’t think the front office is ready to promote a kid from High-A to the bigs in the span of one offseason. The two guys I’ll be paying special attention to this spring are Rafael Dolis and Adam Reifer. Dolis throws very hard, but the statistics don’t match the scouting report. Reifer was on the verge of breaking through with St. Louis a couple years ago, and allowed 19 hits in 41 innings pitched at AAA last season…yeah, reread the first part of the sentence and let it sink in. He’s also had a tough time controlling the strike zone as a pro. I found a grainy video of him, must have been from the minors a few years back. Tops out around 93 with the fastball – I’d heard he throws harder than that. Either way, he’s my sleeper this spring.

Just for fun, I’ll throw Erik Cordier’s name into the ring as well. Just how hard does he throw?

That’s it for now. We’ll get to some more topics later in the week, as we wait out the final days until the beat writers start hitting us left and right with camp stories. As Chris Berman likes to say, “tick-tick-tick, tick…”

Big League Dreamin’

Well, I learned the answer to a question I thought I’d never have to ask yesterday morning: What does -50 degrees feel like? The answer: About how you’d think it would… way too cold. There aren’t many guarantees in life, but there is one thing I’m sure of: Montana will never make national news for weather. It’s dangerously cold out here, but we just go about our lives like nothing’s changed. Snow day? There’s no such thing. Another thing I’ve learned during my time in Big Sky Country; spend a year in Montana, and you’ll be prepared for just about anything life throws your way. I’ll be headed for the Golden State on a work trip in a few weeks, and it can’t get here soon enough.

But this is a baseball blog folks, not a “KG’s life story” blog. And boy, could I sure use some baseball in my life right about now. We’ve spent so much time on the prospect front lately, I think it’s about time we get back to the 25 men who are the envy of every minor leaguer in the organization. This isn’t really intended to be a formal post, but more of a place to chat about a few things that have been on my mind lately. It may seem a little random, but try to stay with me here.

The Big Question

The big question everyone seems to be asking these days is, “Did the Giants do enough this winter?” There’s definitely some major disagreement on the part of the fanbase regarding Sabean’s offseason work, but there’s also a good chunk of the fanbase who would fire Sabean in an instant. Most of that crowd doesn’t hang around here, which is just fine by me. Honestly, how can anyone actually tell you a team did or didn’t do enough before a Spring Training game has even been played? I don’t think they can.

When I look at the overall body of work Sabean and his staff put together this winter, I see every major roster hole filled. Maybe you have an issue with the individual players who they signed to plug those holes, but it’s hard for me to be overly critical when the only position battles in camp are for bench and bullpen jobs. There are certainly other teams in baseball who would like to have that kind of certainty this time of year.

Weaknesses

For me, the key to this season will again be depth. And I do feel like that is still an area of weakness, despite Sabean talking so much about it during his end-of-year press conference. I really don’t know how much more could have been done about the starting rotation (I’m not going to nitpick the Lincecum and Vogelsong signings), but the Giants just don’t have an Archie Bradley or Jameson Taillon sitting in AAA right now ready to move in at the first sign of trouble. Between Petit, Huff, Kickham and Escobar, there should be enough options in case one of the regulars hits the 15-day DL. If someone suffers a more extensive injury like Vogey did last year, then you may have to start looking at trade options. Obviously, you can’t plan for things like that.

When I talk about depth, the two areas that concern me the most are the infield and bullpen. I really think this roster could have used another proven reliever, so guys like Hembree, Kontos and Machi would have been battling for one spot rather than two. Another MLB arm, lefty or righty, would have really tied things together. There are a couple kids lurking in the minors like Derek Law and Josh Osich, but I can’t envision either of them in San Francisco before mid-season.

I also would have liked a more reliable option to take time off Scutaro’s hands at second. This is really where I feel the front office didn’t do enough, as the options were certainly out there. Shankbone talked very early on in the offseason about the Dodgers’ utility guys that would hit the market, and I certainly thought the Giants would have looked at one of them. As it went, those guys didn’t stay unemployed for very long. The A’s scooped up Nick Punto in a hurry, the Cards brought in Mark Ellis to provide Kolten Wong insurance, and Cincinnati plucked Skip Schumaker. Any one of those guys would have been a good fit for the Giants, and probably could have seen plenty of playing time. Even the Dodgers – after losing all three of those guys – got back into the infield market recently by giving Justin Turner a minor league deal. He was a non-tender guy, and it wouldn’t have taken much to bring him in for a look.

These are certainly small problems to have in the grand scheme of things, but I do think there will come a time this season when depth will be an issue again, and the lack of proven options off the bench might come back to haunt the front office. The Giants just have too many players with injury history to ignore that possibility. At that point, maybe a trade or two would need to take place. We’ll see how that all plays out.

Posey’s conditioning

Have you seen the pictures of Buster from the commercial shoots and Fanfest? Wow, he looks good. There’s been all kinds of talk about his offseason regimen, building strength to get through the grind this summer. Well, he certainly looks bigger to me, both in his arms and upper body. He’s supposedly up to 215 lbs now, and I have no problem with that. Personally, I think he’s as upset as anyone about what happened last season. When he was needed most to pick things up (in the second half), the production just wasn’t there. Buster seems to be one of those guys for who it only takes one time to learn a lesson, and his poor second half was likely a wake-up call. I’m looking for big things from him this season. He’s a leader on this team, and the Giants will go as he goes in 2014.

Final Word

Sorry if this seems a little scattered, I know it’s a little different from most of my posts. But there are so many things to catch up on right now, so many different storylines to discuss. Rather than writing one exasperating post, I figured I’d break them up into some smaller ones, touching on three or four topics each time. We’re less than a week from pitchers and catchers reporting, and the days are moving slower. If you’re like me, you need some baseball chatter this time of year to keep your spirits up.

So, hit me with some feedback. Did the Giants “do enough” this winter? What are the weak areas of the team? What are you expecting from Buster this year? Feel free to chime in, and I’ll be working on a few more of these to get us through next week. As always thanks for reading, and stay warm… it’s chilly out there. Seriously, seriously chilly.

Buster Posey

(Sfgiantsphotos.mlblogs.com)

More Moves (with Video!)

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. It’s time to get caught up on some recent Giants roster moves, as there have been plenty in the past couple days. Some are more prominent than others, and there are already plenty of reaction pieces out there, so I’ll keep my thoughts brief. I’ve also done a little searching and found some video on each of the players involved in the recent slew of moves, which is nice because there’s not always a ton of clips out there.

Vogey’s Back:

First, reports came out just a few minutes ago that Ryan Vogelsong’s one-year deal is done, pending the customary physical. I haven’t seen anything describing the official terms of the contract, but rumors were that he’d earn somewhere around $3M in guaranteed money, with incentives taking it to more than $6.5M (the total for his 2014 option the Giants declined a couple weeks ago). If those numbers hold true, it’s a head scratcher to me why they didn’t just pick up his option in the first place.

At this point, it would appear that Sabean has filled his rotation for next season. He did so in a hurry, like usual. Considering that we knew Sabes wanted a 1-year deal for his 5th starter, and that the Giants had been connected to Vogey all along, this really shouldn’t be a big surprise. But I would be lying if I said I was completely satisfied with the move. With so many short-term options still available in the pitching market, I’m a little disappointed in the front office for closing the rotation door so quickly. When you consider Vogelsong’s 2013 season was pretty abysmal, I’m just not a big fan of bringing him back. Granted, this contract could turn out to be a steal if he even comes close to his 2012 performance next season. At 36 years old, I’m not so sure that’s going to happen. Honestly, I would have preferred a one-year flier on a guy like Phil Hughes to Vogelsong, but Hughes probably wouldn’t have come as cheap. Whatever, I guess…

Make no mistake about it: the Giants brought Vogey back because they think he’s capable of looking like this again. But, don’t forget those 93’s and 94’s had dipped to 88’s and 89’s this September. The only time he looked good all season was in the WBC start I watched in March, so maybe the short offseason really did screw him up. Only time will tell, but for now I think it’s safe to say the 5th spot in the rotation is Vogelsong’s to lose.

DFA:

A couple nights ago, we learned that two players had been DFA’d, making room for two new additions to the 40-man roster. For Johnny Monell and Francisco “Frankie Peggs” Peguero, it’s probably so long Gigantes. For pitchers Jose De Paula and Eric Cordier, it’s welcome to San Francisco, home of two world titles in four years.

Let’s be clear here. Monell had absolutely no future with the Giants. He was called up for a cup of coffee (and maybe a little showcase?) in September, but his age and defense are working against him in a big way. He’ll get picked up for his left-handed power (see this video), but he’s probably destined to a part-time DH role. Of course, I’ll be rooting for him.

The Giants have a logjam of AAA outfield types, and one or two of them were bound to bite the dust. It just happened to be Peguero that got the first call, but don’t be surprised if Roger Kieschnick’s phone rings too. Juan Perez passed both guys this year, and neither was all that impressive in their brief MLB action. If Peguero is claimed, there’ll be some upset fans out there, of that I am certain. The dude got only 46 PA in two seasons, which isn’t nearly enough to form an opinion. But we know how the Giants roll: if they give you an opportunity, you’d better damn well show them something. To me, all Peguero showed was the inability to take a pitch. He didn’t do himself any favors, and looked pretty rough in the majority of his AB’s. Of course, some fans will forget the bad, and remember his only good swing in a Giants uniform when they abuse Sabean for cutting ties.

Don’t get me wrong, the guy has nice speed, and maybe he’ll catch on with someone. But I just didn’t see him fitting into the Giants long-term plans.

40-Man Adds:

So, the newbies… De Paula is a lefty who earned a spring training invite in San Diego last year. That’s pretty good for a 23 year-old, as he is so listed on Baseball Reference. It’s not so exciting, however, for a 25 year-old, as he’s listed on SFGiants.com. Which one is it? Pretty certain it’s 25, and he’s already missed a season due to visa issues. He’s never been above AA, and doesn’t pitch all that well against righties. Maybe a future reliever? Here’s some video from his time in the Cal League.

Cordier (how do you pronounce that?) has bounced around a few organizations, but had a pretty nice season for Pittsburgh’s AAA club this year. He’s a big 27 year-old, throws major gas, and doesn’t seem to have any clue where it’s going. Don’t believe me? Watch the first three pitches from this AFL video in 2011. Yowzers. The Giants are loading up on flame-throwing bullpen arms, and I can’t say I disapprove. If Cordier can find the mitt, he may finally break through to the big leagues next season. And he should be fun to watch!

Gosh dang it, I rambled again. It’s a work in progress, friends. That’s all for now though, as we get closer to the winter meetings. Will Sabean swing a deal for an OF or a utility player? We can certainly hope. For now, the pitching staff looks to be locked up, so things could get pretty quiet on the Gigantes front heading forward.

Monell

GM Meetings: Hank has the Dirt

As the GM meetings take place in Orlando, you can cross one name off the list of outfielders available this winter. The Phillies signed Marlon Byrd to a 2-year, $16M deal this morning. The deal itself isn’t all that surprising, as MLB Trade Rumors had him signing at a projected 2-$15M, but I think the Phightin’ Phils are sending a pretty clear message to the rest of baseball here by not wasting any time. With such a slim market this year (especially for outfielders), teams really do need to get their negotiations going early… Does that mean they’ll have to overpay some? Probably, but it might beat the alternative of waiting, as this market could dry up pretty rapidly.

One team who’s not waiting around to throw their name out there: that’s right, your own Gigantes. While Baggs’ is tossing around unrealistic qualifying offer hitter fluff pieces over at his place, Hammerin’ Hank Schulman got down to business this morning, and just called into KNBR from Orlando to chat about his findings.

First off, a big surprise. The Braves apparently low-balled Tim Hudson. According to Hank, the offer was low enough that it all but sent the message “We don’t want you here anymore.” Those are his words, not mine. I would say most people (myself included) didn’t see that coming. Hudson spent 9 years with the Braves, and only posted an ERA north of 4 once. To lowball him is a pretty big slap in the face, in my opinion. Enter the Giants, pitching gurus! Word is Hudson’s willing to go west, and multiple sources are calling him a “chief target” for Brian Sabean.

The Giants need pitching, and they prefer shorter deals. According to Mr. Schulman, they’re not afraid to bump up the yearly salary on those deals to get their man, either (see Lincecum, Timothy). So…Hudson’s available, and could probably be had on a one or two-year offer… he made $9M last year, and he’s predicted to earn about the same this year. If the Giants upped it to $11M (they can afford it), he’d probably accept. But what do I know anyway?!

Personally, I’d take Hudson in a heartbeat. The guy is a total pro, and he’s quietly been one of the most consistent pitchers of this era. 426 career starts, 25 complete games, a 3.44 ERA, and a .649 win%. Age is really the only thing working against him, although the brutal ankle injury might scare a few teams away… like Hank says, though, “There’s nothing wrong with his arm.” I know there are certainly people who would ream Sabean for a two-year deal for a 38 year-old in the twilight of his career, but I wouldn’t be one of them. If that two-year deal prevents us from three years of Bronson Arroyo, that’s all the better in my opinion.

Speaking of Arroyo, Schulman mentioned him as a guy the Giants might stay away from, as the interest for him might indeed push his offers to three years… thank goodness.  Hank did bring up Scott Feldman and Dan Haren as two other starters that could be on Uncle Sabes’ shopping list, though. One thing I found interesting, he seemed to think that Ryan Vogelsong’s days in the orange and black are done. If Sabean wants a rotation that’ll compete with the Dodgers and Cardinals, he needs to come in with 5 solid options. Long story short, Vogey and Petit are Plan B, and the Giants know they need to focus on Plan A.

A couple other things before I wrap up the “Schulman Talks.” As for trading Pablo; there’s certainly interest out there, and the Giants should listen to any offers. But unloading the Panda would probably create more hills than it filled, and the front office probably isn’t willing to subtract his valuable “power potential” at the moment. Honestly, unless someone blows you away with an offer, I too think it makes more sense to hang onto him this winter.

Finally: playing the qualifying offer games. Hank says he’s talked to a few folks from the Giants in Orlando who report there is a scenario where the club could give up its first round pick. If someone gets the Kyle Lohse treatment, and remains available this spring, there’s a chance the Giants could swoop in and make a discounted offer. Overall, though, I expect (and hope) they’ll hold onto that pick.

So we have our first pretty significant Giants rumor, and the market for outfielders is already shrinking. I’d expect Sabean to start tossing some offers out there in the coming weeks, so there should be plenty to talk about in the hot stove department going forward.

Pitching Market Part II: 10 Names (and a Vogelsong)

In Part I of the offseason pitching list last night, we looked at some of the more unlikely candidates for the Giants rotation, including (depending on your opinion) some of the top dogs on the market in Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Garza. As I said, Tanaka should be someone the Giants put a good amount of effort into. Unfortunately for all of us, MLB and the Japanese NBP still haven’t worked out the new posting system, and a report today says they still may be “several weeks away” from doing so. Until then, I guess we’ll just remain in a holding pattern… ugh.

Whether or not Brian Sabean will make a run at a front-line pitcher this winter remains to be seen. It’s just speculation at this point, and I wouldn’t say anyone other than Sabes and his staff really knows what the full extent of the offseason plan entails. We do know that the Giants have two spots to fill in their rotation. How much money they’ll spend in doing so is anyone’s guess.

Today, I wanted to look at another group of guys. I’ll call this the B-List, and say there is a very real chance that at least one of these fellows dons a Giants hat for the next year or two. If Sabean doesn’t pursue or fails to land a Tanaka/Garza type, I would guess that two of these guys will ink deals to join the party.

I’ve used John Heyman’s free agent list and projected contracts to form a list of 10 reasonable options, and added on Ryan Vogelsong as the wildcard 11th man. The rankings listed are Heyman’s, and I’ll admit I would have ranked them quite differently… It was easier just to work my way down his list. I also included ages and a snapshot of 2013 stats to go along with the player’s expected contract.

B-List:

#17. Bronson Arroyo, Age: 36
2013: 32 GS, 3.79 ERA, 32 HR
Expected Contract: 3-$35M

#18. Jason Vargas, 30
24 GS, 4.02 ERA, 17 HR
3-$30M

#23. Scott Feldman, 30
30 GS, 3.86 ERA, 19 HR
2-$20M

#28. Phil Hughes, 27
29 GS, 5.19 ERA, 24 HR
2-$18M

#34. Scott Kazmir, 29
29 GS, 4.04 ERA, 19 HR
2-$15M

#35. Bruce Chen, 36
15 GS, 3.27 ERA, 13 HR
2-$14M

#39. Bartolo Colon, 40
30 GS, 2.65 ERA, 14 HR (18 wins for the Moneyballin’ A’s… What the hell Bartolo?!)
1-$12M

#44. Paul Maholm, 31
26 GS, 4.41 ERA, 17 HR
2-$12M

#48. Tim Hudson, 38
2013: 21 GS, 3.97 ERA, 10 HR
1-$9M

#51. Dan Haren, 33
2013: 30 GS, 4.67 ERA, 28 HR
1-$8M

Wildcard:

NR. Ryan Vogelsong, 36
19 GS, 5.73 ERA, 15 HR

Thoughts: I’ll tell you the first thing that stands out to me after putting this list together: the Giants overpaid like hell for Tim Lincecum. But you already knew that.

Moving on, I’d have to say there’s some value to be had with this year’s pitching class, even a couple cats who are still under 30. Most of these guys are going to sign short-term deals, which bodes very well for Sabean’s needs. Unless they flirt with Tanaka, the Giants aren’t looking to lock up pitchers for 4-5 years at this point. I’d say it’s pretty realistic that at least a couple of the Crick/Blackburn/Escobar/Mejia/Stratton/Blach/Flores/Agosta group will be contributors in the rotation by 2016, so Sabean would be wise to leave a little wiggle room for when that time comes.

A lot of these guys will come pretty cheap as well, at least by today’s outrageous salary standards. $6 million for Paul Maholm…$8 million for Dan Haren…$9 mil for Hudson? Those aren’t bad at all, folks. Personally, I wouldn’t give anyone on this list 3 years, but I could handle 2 for the quite a few of them.

So… 10 names and a Vogelsong. What to make of this mess? Fortunately, I’ve come up with a few groups.

Give me one: If Sabean goes large and shocks the world by outbidding for Tanaka, or pays Matt Garza handsomely for 4 years, I’d take Maholm, Haren or Vogey on a one year deal to fill the back end of the rotation. Maholm’s not my favorite by any means, but he’d make a decent 5th starter. This is also probably the only scenario where I’d like to have Vogey back, as you’d already have three very reliable options at the top of the rotation. Anything extra from Lincecum and Vogelsong would be the icing on the cake. Here’s something to ponder: put Vogey’s 2012 numbers by his name up there, and he’s one of the better options on the list. You never know. Haren is another guy I like. He wants to play on the west coast, and getting him out of DC and into AT&T would probably cut those 28 HR down. He had a nice second half, but his velocity has definitely dipped.

Give me two: If the Giants decide not to pursue Tanaka or Garza or come up short, they’d likely need to grab two guys from this bargain bin to form a competitive rotation. In that case, I think a Kazmir/Hudson combination would fit pretty nicely. Hudson would be perfect on a one year deal, but he’s probably the least likely of this group to be lured to San Francisco at his age. Kazmir was a steal for the Indians as a resurrection story, and he rolled down the stretch. He’d give the Giants a second lefty in the rotation, and he boasts some of the top fastball velocity of this group. I like Kazmir, and I think he’s really turned things around.

Sabes’ Special: The Giants have been already been connected to Arroyo and Haren quite a bit, and I see them as the most likely Sabean signings. Baggs has tossed their names around a handful of times, Arroyo has been quoted saying he loves San Francisco, and Haren was the lone top 50 free agent assigned to the Giants in MLB Trade Rumors’ predictions. As of this afternoon, Buster Olney has people connecting the dots to Arroyo with comments about the Giants being “well-positioned” in his bidding… whatever the hell that means.

Ok…Can I get something off my chest here? I don’t like Bronson Arroyo. I think he’s smug, and those MLB commercials of him playing the guitar and singing drove me up the wall last year. I didn’t like him in Boston, and I certainly didn’t appreciate him throwing up and in on Vogelsong in 2012. Look, there are very few players in the game that I legitimately don’t like. That’s not my style. But for some reason, the dude just rubs me the wrong way.

There, I said it. I don’t like the man, and I hope we go a different direction. I understand he’s been very steady, and admit that he’d make a solid 4th or 5th starter. . If he helps us get back to the playoffs, I’m sure the grudges will fade away. But seriously, Sabes, two years max… for the love of all things good. But enough about that.

So, final verdict for Uncle Sabes and the starting pitcher market: Close your eyes, cross your fingers, and hope for Tanaka. If we fall short, close your eyes again and hope the Dodgers don’t land him. When the dust settles, a one year deal for Haren and a two year deal for Arroyo is probably a pretty reasonable bet.