The Giants are basically set for the next two years at least in the starting rotation, with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez all under team control til at least 2011 at cost-controlled prices. And with the vaguely serviceable Barry Zito signed til forever and closer Brian Wilson still with 4 years left of arbitration, on the pitching side of things GM Brian Sabian’s job consists of little more than plugging in a 5th starter and filling in a few gaps in the back end of the bullpen from year to year.
The offense, however, is another story.
Even with the emergince of Pablo Sandoval as a superstar-type bat, the Giants still put up the following team numbers:
OBP – .309 (last in the majors)
BB% – 6.7 (last in the majors)
wOBA – .305 (last in the majors)
Yes, that is correct. Despite seeing their third baseman post a slash line of .330/.387/.556, the Giants still had the worst offense in the game – that’s just how bad everyone else on the team was.
Of course, the Giants kind of shot themselves in the foot by benching the player with their second best OBP, left-fielder Fred Lewis, for much of the season behind guys like Nate Schierholtz (a putrid .302 OBP), but Lewis’s OBP that was good enough for second best on the team was still only .348, which tells you something about the kind of “talent” Sabean has assembled in the lineup behind Sandoval.
They Giants are not entirely without hope of improvement. The recently resigned Freddy Sanchez improves the offense at second base a bit, and a full season of highly touted catching prospect Buster Posey might provide a boost, but then again that would require actually playing Posey, rather than letting him rot on the bench behind punchless Eli Whiteside the way Bruch Bochy did all last September.
But the problem is that the Giants already have subpar offensive contributors ensconced at too many positions, with Garko at first, Renteria at short, and Rowand in center. Assuming the Giants are committed to giving Posey some sort of shot and letting either Lewis or Schierholtz play one of the outfield corners, their only real chance to upgrade offensively is at the other outfield corner.
But given how good the Giants pitching is, they have a real shot to go deep into the playoffs if they can add only a modicum of offense, and with huge numbers coming off the books this offseason, they should go for it now, while they have pitching a low prices, by signing a star, run-producing outfielder.
Knowing when your team is on the verge of playoff contention and thus that you should spend big to try to get a few extra wins is a key skill in baseball, and for the Giants the time is now. After all, they won 88 games last year despite having the worst offense around.
In sum, what the Giants need is to start Lewis instead of Schierholtz in right field, play Buster Posey full-time, maybe sign Brad Penny if he’s cheap, and do whatever it takes to sign either Jason Bay or Matt Holliday.