San Francisco Giants fans (like me) urged management to sign players like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes or to re-sign Carlos Beltran. General Manager Brian Sabean didn't bite on those free agent signings, and, as of the middle of May, Giants fans are breathing a sigh of relief that they did not pull the trigger on those players.
Pujols signed a 10-year, $250 million contract to play for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. As of May 15th, Pujols is batting under .200 and only has one home run to his credit. Sabean instead penciled in Aubrey Huff to start at first base, but after his anxiety attack and stint on the disabled list, Huff has not found his way off the bench. The Giants are now relying on platooning Brett Pill and Brandon Belt (with the occasional start by regular catcher Buster Posey) to fill the role at first base. In 24 starts at first, Belt is batting .242 with no home runs (.246, 0 HRs, 6 RBIs, and 6 runs overall in all positions). In eight starts as a first baseman, Pill is batting .333 with one home run (.234, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs, and 6 runs overall in all positions). Although one can expect Pujols to turn his season around, it is evident the Giants are getting more production and experience for their younger hitters by sticking with Belt and Pill.
The Giants were hesitant to make another big splash in the free agent market after the Barry Zito signing in 2007 which didn't work out as planned, but the moves to pick up quality players Melky Cabrera (in a trade for starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez) and Angel Pagan (1 year, $4.85 million free agent signing) have paid dividends this season, especially since both have remained healthy in a Giants lineup that is filled with minor league-caliber injury replacements.
Fans now wait for Sabean's next move, which will be an in-season move to pick up some much-needed offense and/or an established closer. One option, which has been a recent trade rumor out of Boston, involves the Red Sox sending third baseman Kevin Youkilis to the Giants so that Boston can make room for up-and-coming rookie star Will Middlebrooks. Another option for Sabean would be for the Giants to acquire an established closer. Houston Astros closer Brett Myers (9 saves with a 1.42 ERA) could be acquired to replace the Brian Wilson and allow the Giants to move hard-throwing Santiago Casilla from the closer role back to his situational role in the bullpen. After the shaky ninth inning save from Casilla on May 14th against the Colorado Rockies (one run on one hit and two walks), a proven closer will make the Giants bullpen stronger and more reliable to shut the door in the ninth.
Brian Grisin life-long Bay Area sports fan, a teacher, coach, freelance writer, and a fantasy baseball addict.