Winter meetings have come and gone. While there still remains a number of high-profile free agents (and some not so “high-profile”), the San Francisco Giants and Brian Sabean have said that they’re basically done with major league deals for this offseason.
So… that’s it then?
If that’s the case, then I say we take a look back at the last two months and decide just how good the Giants offseason moves were. Before we get into it, I’ll tell you upfront what I think.
Overall Grade for the SF Giants 2014 Offseason: B+
“Impossible!” you might shout at this point, especially based on what I’ve seen on Twitter. But I’ve got to say; overall I’m impressed with what the Giants have done to prepare for next year.
9/29 – Giants extend RF Hunter Pence
Okay, okay, so it’s not technically the offseason. But I’m still going to look at this move as one that the Giants needed to make, and in fact, it’s even more impressive that they made it before the season ended. Pence provides power, speed and that overused, crutch-of-a-word, “chemistry” to this team. The 20+ steals was unexpected and a huge boost and I don’t expect anything less than that to go with at least 23 homeruns this season.
Individual Grade: A
10/25 – Giants extend RHP Tim Lincecum
While I fully admit to being a Lincecum fanboy, this move (details here) is one of my least favorite signings of the offseason. It has everything to do with the dollar amount, and even now, months later, I’m still conflicted. Ultimately, while I don’t necessarily agree with the move, I can understand and appreciate it. Lincecum (like the next guy I’ll discuss) is here to fill a void for two more years until we see the next crop of young, talented, homegrown Giants pitchers. It’s also a strategic marketing move to help keep loyal fans loyal and excited until we pick our new favorite to root for.
Individual Grade: C+
11/18 – Giants sign free agent RHP Tim Hudson
I’ve already written a piece on why I think the Hudson signing was a great one. He provides 2-years of above average pitching and a very strong veteran experience/presence on a staff that is in a transitional period. I strongly believe that Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong, and Lincecum are not a part of any long-term plan and will be gone after two years, but those two years are going to be instrumental in shaping the rising crop of young Giants arms. This is, in my opinion, what makes Hudson so valuable.
Individual Grade: A-
11/26 – Giants sign free agent LHP Javier Lopez
Can you imagine the uproar if the Giants let Lopez slip away? Lopez is baseball’s top left-handed specialist and genuinely enjoys and likes playing in San Francisco. It was a no-brainer, right? It seemed like Lopez might be interested in jumping over to his hometown Washington Nationals for a bit, but the Giants made sure to bring him back. He is a staple in what has, over the last couple years, been one of the most solid bullpens in baseball. Losing Lopez would have meant Jeremy Affeldt (or someone new, maybe?) would take over the lefty-specialist role, and I don’t know about you, but that idea doesn’t leave me quite as comfortable.
Individual Grade: A
12/2 – Giants sign free agent RHP Ryan Vogelsong
This is in the running for, in my opinion, the most disappointing move of the offseason. The Giants chose to decline Vogelsong’s option, and the general thought was that they were going to bring in someone better. All that actually happened is that the Giants brought Vogelsong back for a little less money (if you consider $1.5 million to be “a little”). Like Hudson and Lincecum, he won’t be around for more than two years, but does serve a valuable role in helping bridge the gap to the new generation. Also on the positive side, locking in a pitcher at a small contract gave them more time and money to focus on LF.
Individual Grade: C-
12/17 – Giants sign free agent LF Michael Morse
This one is what bumped the Giant’s offseason from a C+ to a B+. Morse brings the Giants a longball threat that they can place pretty much anywhere in their order (3-7, although I’d like him 6th, behind Pence and before Pablo Sandoval). While his defense and health are certainly questionable, the upside is undeniable. In his last full season, Morse played 146 games and batted .303 with 31 homeruns and 95 RBIs. Over his whole tenure with the Nats, he averaged 115 games, 21 homers, 66 RBIs and a .296 average. He may not match that again (ever), but the potential is there, and at only $5 million, it’s definitely a risk well worth it. Adding Morse also gives the Giants one of the most offensive lineups they’ve seen in the last decade, with Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Pence, Morse and Sandoval. Each one of those guys can hit 20+ homeruns.
Individual Grade: A
And there you have it. The Giants have made a lot of other moves at the minor league level, and will probably continue to do so throughout the offseason. In terms of the big league squad, though, this is it. Many might say that the Giants missed out on a real pitcher (Masahiro Tanaka comes to mind, as does my personal favorite, Ubaldo Jimenez) or that Morse is a joke of a signing, but in the end, the Giants have improved. Lincecum can’t be worse than he was last year (at least it’s not likely), Hudson is an upgrade from Barry Zito, and Vogelsong will at worst be the same. And the offense, despite what the Morse naysayers have to naysay, is better with him in it.
This team is upgraded, and for that, this offseason has earned a B+.
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