Giants fans can be a fickle bunch.
They’ll cry out over a lack of activity in offseason moves, then will whine about bad contracts that the team has signed.
The Giants’ recent track record on free-agent hitters signed prior to New Year’s Day has not been good — Aaron Rowand (Dec. 12, 2007), Edgar Renteria (Dec. 4, 2008), Mark DeRosa (Dec. 28, 2009), Miguel Tejada (Dec. 2, 2010) and Aubrey Huff (Nov. 23, 2010).
But when the Giants have waited and signed players to one-year deals in January, they have had better success: Juan Uribe (Jan. 29, 2009 and Jan. 4, 2010) and Aubrey Huff (Jan. 10, 2010).
So the Giants clearly are seeking offensive help, but they are not going to outbid teams for players in their 30s or with injury issues. That’s why they lost out on players like Grady Sizemore (re-signed with Indians), Willie Bloomquist (re-signed with Diamondbacks) and Jerry Hairston Jr. (signed with Dodgers), three players that Giants have been linked to this offseason.
So here’s what we’ve heard about players linked to the Giants:
Carlos Beltran, of: Giants GM Brian Sabaen classified it as a “long shot” for the Giants to re-sign Beltran. The reason? Sabean says an AL team may be in a better situation to give Beltran a longer deal he seeks, because he could moved to a DH at the end of that contract. But the market has been quiet on Beltran so far. And it’s interesting to see if Beltran will accept the possibility of being a DH in exchange for a longer deal. He did limit his trade options to NL teams last summer.
Alex Gonzalez, ss: Ugh, these reports are discouraging on many levels. Gonzalez has been described as a SS with some pop. But what I see is a guy with .241 AVG, .270 OBP and a .642 OPS with a whopping 126 strikeouts. Miguel Tejada, who the Giants cut last season, went .239/.270/.596. Gonzalez is just Tejada-plus (better fielder, more pop, younger). He’ll be 35 on opening day. The Giants need more hitters who can get on base more, make more contact and have speed. Gonzalez is not a fit. Also, the Giants have said they’d be willing to give Brandon Crawford a shot at shortstop if they can improve the offense elsewhere. If they are in on a player like Gonzalez, it indicates they aren’t confident of improving the team elsewhere.
Ryan Ludwick, of: There was a report that the Giants were talking to Ludwick, who has been on steady decline since the Cardinals traded him to the Padres during the 2010 season. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News labeled it more “tire kicking.” Let’s hope so. Ludwick went .237/.310/.674 with 124 whiffs last season between San Diego and Pittsburgh. Yuck.
Jeff Keppinger, inf., and Andres Torres, of: The Giants are rumored to be seeking a trade for both this week. Next Monday is the date for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. It’s a signal that the Giants are considering non-tendering both players. It’s because of salary. Both would be backups for the Giants, and made $2.3 million and $2.2 million respectively last season. There’s nothing that precludes the Giants from non-tendering a player, then re-signing them at a cheaper rate as a free agent. There’s more reason to keep Torres with his speed and glove. Keppinger is not an option at SS. He hasn’t played for than 12 games at SS in a season since 2008.
Ramon Ramirez, rp: Ramirez also has been mentioned in trade rumors, like Keppinger and Torres. But unlike those players, there would actually be a market for Ramirez, who made $1.65 million in 2010 and is arbitration-eligible. We can actually see the Giants tender Ramirez next week, then still seek a trade before his case goes to arbitration.
Cody Ross, of: Ross opened the offseason looking for a three-year deal. Yeah, right. Now he’s looking for a two-year deal. Good luck with that. The Giants would be interested in bringing him back for a cheap, one-year deal. But Ross has said if he has to settle for a one-year deal, he wants to go to a hitter-friendly environment (i.e. not AT&T Park). Note to Cody: You hit .242/.336/.735 at home last season, .237/.315/.726 on the road.