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.
The Giants are mired in a four-game losing streak. They were just swept at home by the Atlanta Braves. And they are about to start a nine-game road trip.
There has been not a lot for Giants fans to smile about over the past few days.
So we offer you this video of internet-sensation Keenan Cahill and Giants stars Brian Wilson and Cody Ross lip-syncing to Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite.” Try watching this and not smile.
Cahill is a 16-year-old from the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst who suffers from Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome — a rare and complex condition that includes stunted growth. According to Yahoo Sports, drugs to treat this condition run annually in the six figures.
Three years ago, Cahill began posting videos of him lip-syncing to his favorite videos, and those video went viral. His video have received more than 230 million page views.
He’s done late-night TV interviews, recorded a commercial with Jennifer Aniston, received a birthday message from Katie Perry and done a video with 50 Cent, to name a few.
Cahill recorded the “Dynamite” video with Wilson and Ross — and mascot Lou Seal — during spring training in Arizona. According to Fox Sports, the video has received more than 1 million views in its first week.
The video was made to promote a “Dynamite” fundraiser hosted by the Giants on May 25 during their home game with the Florida Marlins. Fans at the game will get a “Ross is Boss” T-shirt and watch the full video production of the Giants/Cahill video. Proceeds will benefit causes “both dear to Cody and Keenan.”
Ironically (or perhaps not), the Marlins are the team that placed Ross on waivers last August when he was claimed by the Giants. Ross went to be a postseason hero and NLCS MVP as he helped the Giants claim their first World Series title in 56 years.
So, we knew the Giants are champions. But now we also know they’re pretty cool guys, as well.
No one needed to know the results of the MRI on Cody Ross’ calf to know the outfielder would not be opening the season with the Giants next week.
Ross, who injured his calf fielding a routine fly ball on Wednesday, showed up at Giants training camp Thursday in a walking boot and using a crutch.
The Giants then announced that Ross had suffered a moderate strain of the right calf and he would be sidelined for three weeks.
Initial hopes were that Ross would need a couple of days to heal and be ready for the March 31 opener against the Dodgers.
And even the briefest of possible stints on the disabled list might still allow Ross to be in the lineup for the Giants’ home opener April 8 against the Cardinals.
But Thursday’s news now sets Ross’ earliest possible debut as April 15.
So now it’s time to consider options.
AARON ROWAND: The most plausible replacement option would be Rowand playing center field, with Andres Torres playing right. Rowand has played a little left field this spring, but playing right — particularly at AT&T Park — is a different story. The Giants likely would be better off with Torres in right. And with the Giants slated to face a pair of lefties — Clayton Kershaw and Ted Lilly — in the opening series in LA, the right-handed hitting Rowand seems a natural fit.
NATE SCHIERHOLTZ: Schierholtz has gone from being about a week away from being dealt away by the Giants to being almost a virtual lock to make the club. Given that, it’s doubtful that the left-handed hitting outfielder would be the first choice to replace Ross in the regular lineup, but he could get some starts against right-handed pitchers.
AUBREY HUFF/BRANDON BELT: A third option to consider is to move Aubrey Huff to right field and play Brandon Belt at first base. It had been considered to start Huff in left and Belt and first, sending Pat Burrell to the bench. But Ross’ injury may necessitate considering Huff for right field.
Hank Schulman of the SF Chronicle tweeted that the Belt option is being considered, but also added: “Everyone is pulling for Rowand.”
So it sounds as if the Giants are leaning toward the Rowand option early in the season. It may not be popular with Giants followers. But it’s the smart move.
Imagine if this injury had taken place the first week of the season and that the final roster cuts had already been made. Schierholtz may have been playing for someone else, and the Giants’ options would be seriously limited right.
Sabean also said that no more cuts will be made until the team returns to the Bay Area next week.
No doubt. I mean, heaven forbid, but what if someone else gets hurt.
Trying to find some good news out of spring training camp Wednesday for the San Francisco Giants would take some searching.
It was a bad day all around. Hopefully, in a couple of days, it won’t seem so bad. But we’ll see.
It started with Brian Wilson throwing in the bullpen and eventually being told to stop after a few minutes.
Where that puts Wilson’s status for opening day next week depends on who you ask.
Wilson gave the impression that Wednesday’s workout was just another step on the road to getting ready. But manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants would not rush to get Wilson ready for the opener, suggesting that he may open the season on the disabled list.
“We’re running short on time,” Bochy said. “This isn’t the time to rush Willie back.”
Then, when the game started against the Angels, Matt Cain got tagged for five first-inning runs in his second start back from elbow inflammation.
The bad inning started with a swinging bunt single by Erick Aybar. Howie Kendrick singled sharply up the middle. Then Bobby Abreu hit an 0-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a three-run homer. After Torii Hunter walked and stole second, Cain got Vernon Wells and Albert Callaspo to fly out (more on the second out later). Mark Trumbo followed with deep double to left-center to score Hunter. Trumbo then scored on a single by Jeff Mathis.
In the second and third innings, Cain surrendered no runs on two hits, no walks and two strikeouts.
The good news is that Cain said he felt good after the start, encouraged that he felt as strong at the end of his three innings as he did at the start. But he added he was “out of rhythm” which caused some pitches to leak out over the plate.
It was the third consecutive uneven start by Giants pitchers, following Madison Bumgarner’s rough start Sunday against the A’s, and Tim Lincecum’s outing Monday against the Rockies in a game that was eventually called for rain.
The end result Wednesday was an 8-0 loss to the Angels, the third consecutive loss for the Giants and the fourth in their last five games.
But the biggest loss Wednesday was that off right fielder Cody Ross. Ross suffered a strained calf on a fairly routine fly ball off the bat of Callaspo.
Ross limped off the field on his own power and went for an MRI. The Giants announced late Wednesday that Ross had sustained a strained calf. Just how long he’ll be sidelined likely won’t be know until Thursday.
It’s funny how quickly things can change. Last week, the season couldn’t start quickly enough for the Giants. And now, they wouldn’t mind a few more days to get ready.
But the season is rapidly approaching.
Barry Zito will take the mound as the Giants face the Indians Thursday night. Madison Bumgarner makes his final Cactus League start Friday night against the Royals.
Saturday is a split-squad day, with a day game against the Reds and a nightcap vs. the Indians. Lincecum is due to make his final spring start, but we’re not sure which game he will pitch. Jonathan Sanchez will cap the Arizona portion of the spring schedule against the Royals on Sunday.
On Monday, the Giants return home to open a three-game set against the A’s. Cain would pitch Monday at AT&T Park; Zito goes Tuesday in Oakland and Bumgarner would pitch Wednesday afternoon back at AT&T before the team heads to LA to open the 2011 season at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
Woohoo! Finally, some news from the Giants to report.
- Outfielder Cody Ross signed for $6.3 million, a raise over his $4.45 million 2010 salary. The NLCS MVP was acquired in a waiver claim from the Marlins on Aug. 22. He hits 14 home runs with 65 RBI and hit .269 last season.
- Starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez signed for $4.8 million after earning $2.1 million in 2010. Sanchez was 13-9 with 3.07 ERA in 33 starts last season.
- Relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez agreed to a $1.65 million, after earning $1.155 million last year. Ramirez was acquired in a trade with the Red Sox last season. He went 1-0 with 0.67 ERA in 25 outings with the Giants.
- Also, relief pitcher Santiago Casilla reportedly agreed to a one-year deal for $1.3 million. Casilla made $400,000 in 2010, when he went 7-2 with a 1.95 ERA in 55 innings last season.
Now, this was a tough one for More Splash Hits.
At first, I really wanted to pin this one on Jeffrey Loria, the frugal owner of the Florida Marlins.
Loria was the principal owner of the Montreal Expos from 1999-2002, when the regularly jettisoned good players and belly-ached about how he needed a new stadium to succeed. Finally, in 2002, he sold the Expos to the other 29 MLB clubs, and purchased the Marlins.
Loria won a World Series title with the Marlins in 2003, then got rid of key components of that team like Josh Beckett and Miguel Cabrera when their contracts became too big.
So when the Marlins decided to punt Cody Ross to the curb in 2010, More Splash Hits wanted to pin it on Loria.
But really the decision to get rid of Ross didn’t come down to finances — entirely. Ross didn’t figure into the Fish’s long-term plans and they had younger outfielders they wanted to play like Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison.
So the real person to blame — or thank — for Ross ending up in San Francisco is general manager Larry Beinfest.
After the Marlins decided that Ross would not be part of their future, they took bids on him from various teams before the July 31 trade deadline. One of these teams was the Giants.
But the Marlins didn’t get an offer to their liking, so the Giants went out and got Jose Guillen.
But late August, the Marlins’ season had officially unraveled and they again were looking to get rid of Ross and the remaining $1 million on his contract. So they ran him through waivers.
By this time, the Giants were heavy with outfielders. However, they did not want Ross going to the rival Padres, so they placed a bid on Ross.
The Marlins then said to the Giants: “You want him. You can have him.” And the Giants got him for nothing.
Ross played here and there after arriving in San Francisco. Then by mid-September, Andres Torres had an appendectomy and Ross played a key role down the stretch. And then, of course, he was a monster in the postseason.
When they acquired Ross, I’m sure the Giants were thinking he would be a non-tender candidate come December. But with the adjustment he made at the plate and the huge contribution he made to the Giants’ first World Series title in 56 years, Ross will be back with the Giants in 2011.
So for not realizing that the Marlins’ season was over sooner than he did, for not finding another trade partner for Ross and for just giving him to the Giants for nothing, we say to Larry Beinfest “thank you for the early Christmas gift.”
The Top 10 List of Non-Giants Who Should Be on Every Giants Fans Christmas Card List:
No. 4, Cliff Lee
No. 5, Chase Utley
No. 6, Andrew Friedman and Neil Huntington
No. 7, Roy Oswalt
No. 8, Bud Black
No. 9, Paul Emmel
No. 10, Bengie Molina