The Giants, in their search for pitching help for the low, aka the bargain basement of the free agent pool, found their first arm they've inked all season long, signing former Ranger's LHP Derek Holland to a minor League deal on Friday. Far from the level of guys I was hoping they'd be able to lure in on a minor league deal or Major League minimum, Holland will come in and join the competition for the two remaining rotation spots that are up for grabs.
Again, there are still names out there like R.A. Dickey, Jeremy Hellickson, Jaime Garcia and perhaps my personal favorite, John Lackey, that may ultimately be had for a cheap deal. For Hellickson and Garcia it could be a place to boost their value for next winter while playing for a team with hopes of contention. For Lackey and Dickey, it could be appealing because both of those guys are coming off of decent seasons and could slot into the four spot and really improve this rotation and provide the squad with even more of a shot in the arm after the Cutch, Longo and A-Jack additions. Lackey, to me should be the target. He pitched so well in a hitters yard and division for the Cubs last summer and heading into his age 39 season, Baseball Reference has him projected to throw 165 innings with a 4.09 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and nearly a K per inning. Those are good numbers for anyone, let alone a guy on doorstep of 40 years of age. They could use him in the 4th spot after Samardzija and then Stratten in the 5th to help deepen the rotation. Although, he may end up netting a major league deal eventually and rightfully so. Dickey would be a fun option as well as he's a knuckle-baller prone to fly balls who could thrive in the spacious AT&T Park.
Those are the two I'm looking at mostly because their age won't require any long-term, high salaried contract, and they showed last season they still have some strong innings left in those right arms. I know the Giants seem to be prioritizing more bullpen help at this point, but as I've said in recent posts after they seemed to have shored up their lineup, they cannot neglect their rotation. Yes, their front-3, barring a return to health by Cueto and Bum, are as strong as most in the league, but after that it's really a crap shoot. Stratten looked the part last September but those were in low pressure starts on a team that lost nearly 100 games.
I know the pen can't be overlooked either, but I see them as in better shape right now than the rotation. They have their closer and a couple of set-up options in Dyson and Strickland as well as the return of a healthy/recovered (fingers crossed) Will Smith, who will be their top left-handed set-up option at the end of the bullpen. Their mid-relief has shown glimpses of being very good (first half of 2016 and the second half of 2017) but have been largely inconsistent over the last two seasons which needs to improve.
Although the Giants got the as close to the power/defenisve upgrades added to this lineup as they could without going over the luxury tax, they still have some things to figure out within their pitching staff and whether or not they'll be adding more names to the mix in the coming days before they report to Scottsdale for their first P and C workout on the 14th. They also, apparently, are still open to adding some more outfield depth if they can find the right situation. Again though, due to them being less than $2M from the CBT, they really don't have much money to throw around and any move they make will likely have to be a minor league deal or they may have one major league minimum offer that they'd be able to make.
In summation, the Holland deal doesn't make me feel one way or another. I guess I'd lean toward supporting it just because its not costing them major league money while providing depth at Sac if nothing else but I just don't see this guy coming in and making the Giants rotation, otherwise they may be in worse shape there than even I was worried about.... Still time to lure in another arm or two. Bring me Lackey or if not him then bring Liriano, or if he passes his physical, Chris Tillman could be a huge steal if they could get him on the cheap. Scott Feldman is another guy in that class, who at the minimum could make a lot of sense. He is 35 years old, but didn't pitch too bad at all for the abysmal Reds last summer, as he made 21 starts and rocked a 4.77 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. The 3 years prior to last, Feldman posted ERA's below 4 in each season and is equally well versed at starting and relieving so although he's a little older, he could have some major value to a team looking for pitching depth in both the bullpen and rotation.
Granted, Feldy and Liriano's '17 numbers weren't much better than Ty Blach's in most areas, one area they clearly dominated him in was the strikeout column. Also, something just seemed to happen to Blach down the stretch that really made me lose confidence in him as the league seemed to figure him out in a big way. I know strikeouts aren't his bread and butter but when a ML starter K's less than half a batter per inning, it tells you that their stuff isn't the type of stuff that will miss bats regularly. So unless you've got uncanny command and can place the ball where you want when you want (something Blach did not do last season), then your asking for trouble.
Giants Fan Fest 2018: I'm sure that if your a big enough Giants fan then you're well aware that the annual pre-spring Fan Fest is taking place this Saturday afternoon (2/10) at AT&T Park, and it should be quite a different fan fast than in years past. The Giants have some new players they've added to their core and it will be all three, Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria and Austin Jackson making their first appearance as Giants reps and I';m looking forward as to what these guys will be saying and the optimism surrounding the team. I read that the team is "Euphoric" about the upcoming season and cannot wait to get things kicked off this weekend at Fan Fest before catching their flight out to Arizona to get his comeback attempt officially underway. Usually it's the younger squads that are overly amplified for their upcoming season and not veteran teams coming off a 100'ish loss season so when you got a bunch of vets who, half the squad about has already won a ring this excited and Euphoric about the upcoming campaign it's always a very good sign. I don't remember anything close to this kind of optimism heading into last spring. They also know that if they play well enough to be in the hunt come mid-season and are missing a piece or two then management is essentially showing that they'll do anything possible inside their budget to get this team the players they need.
Extras: So with the Giants' heavy lifting done for the offseason and Spring Training officially kicking off in 5 days, out next post will be our 2018 San Francisco Giants Preview. In that post, we'll break down the projected 25-man roster as we see it at the time of posting it. Of course plenty can happen over the long month of spring training baseball, and things could change but as we enter spring, we wanted to give you an idea in terms of the Giants full roster, projected lineup/rotation/bench/bullpen as well as some names to keep an eye on during spring training who could have outside chances at making the big leagues out the gate. Those are always one of my funner posts as I get to lay out the Giants 40-man roster and sort of asses it heading into the season. Granted I won't be writing about all 40 guys on the roster, I will project the 25 man as well as 3-5 guys who are right on the bubble and should be watched closely this spring and during the early season.
Of course eventually we'll break off and start our division-by-division previews, which is another one of my favorite posting topics as we get to become familiar with the National League in its entirety and get an idea of how the Giants match up with the rest of the league. During those stretch of posts we'll, of course, stay tapped in with the Giants happenings and news as well so don't worry, we'll still be covering the team like we regularly would. Time permitting we'll try and do something similar for the American League but depending on what's happening in Giants camp, I may or may not have the time to get a full American League division by division preview but I will give my thoughts on each division regardless, just not in quite as much depth as I will the NL where we project how we see the division lining up, post projected lineups, rotations and key relievers/prospects and/or bench guys.
Its always some of my favorite posts because I get to really see what the league is looking like and how the Giants really stack up. This year, it's unlikely they did enough to overtake the West from LA, but they'll likely be in the battle for the wild card spots with the likes of Arizona, Colorado, St. Louis and Milwaukee. If they're healthy, the Mets could be as dangerous as any of those teams with all those power arms and a potentially much improved lineup from top to bottom with the additions of Adrian Gonzalez, the return of Jay Bruce and the bargain 2 yr. deal they gave Todd Frazier to possibly come in and hit 30 jacks and drive in 90 for them at only an annual salary of $8.5M/per over 2 years. With Cespedes in is prime, Jose Reyes still a threat and last but not least, 2017 breakout performer before his injury, Michael Conforto, not only will the Mets be able to pitch with anyone in the league, their bats should be able to put up some runs as well! But I'm getting too in depth on that and there will be a time for more team previews in the coming weeks so stay tuned!
This post first appeared on The Giants Baseball Blog- A San Francisco Giants B, please read the originial post: here