Thursday, January 26, 2012

San Francisco Giants' Mediocre Offseason Has Team Falling Behind in NL West

With the San Francisco Giants' 40-man roster all but set for the 2012 MLB season, now is the time to make judgements about the team, the offseason they had and the what the future holds for the franchise.

The immediate judgements are not kind, to say the least.

GM Brian Sabean and the Giants have had a busy offseason, and while most would take that as a sign of good moves filling voids the team had before, that is simply not the case.

Adding Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera certainly is not bad, especially if they are to virtually replace a lagging Cody Ross and injury-prone Andres Torres. But standing there watching Carlos Beltran sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, while the New York Mets claim the Giants' former best pitching prospect is absurd. The worst was when it seemed the Giants never touched the idea of re-upping with Beltran, making the trade during the 2011 regular season one with absolute zero contribution to the franchise.

But while San Francisco was wheeling and dealing for the same-old, same-old, teams in their own division were making waves. Significant ones.

Most notably, the defending NL West Champion Arizona Diamondbacks only got better this offseason, making it all that more frustrating for San Francisco to focus all attention and money on signing discontent players already a part of their 2012 team, instead of eyeing big bats via trade or free agent market.

To re-cap, the Diamondbacks added Trevor Cahill and Joe Saunders to their pitching rotation, which now rivals the Giants for best in the NL West, with Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Josh Collmenter still comfortably hanging around.

Their offense, which turned out to be one of the more dangerous in the National League last season, got more bulk with Jason Kubel being added to the roster.

Kubel hit .273 with 12 homeruns and 58 RBI in only 99 games last season. To put that in perspective, he would bat fourth in the Giants' line-up. No question.

He will be batting fifth or sixth for the Diamondbacks on Opening Day 2012.

Arizona went $10 million over payroll this offseason, which begs the question "Why can't the Giants do that?"

The answer is simple and so very frustrating. San Francisco has money wrapped up in players that will be worthy years down the road.

They focused all their time and energy on claiming Tim Lincecum until 2015 this offseason, and they will spend whatever is left of that time and energy on making Matt Cain a staple on this pitching rotation for years to come, even if no other current pitcher will be a part of it.

Even worse, the Giants are probably already budgeting for when Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner have one tremendous season and want 8-year contracts. Oh, it's coming.

The Giants' front office is in a pickle, which is why you did not see them throwing a bid out there for Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, two of the biggest bats to come through the free agent mill in recent years. Instead, they locked up their pitching (somewhat, and not totally).

San Francisco made moves this offseason, but it did nothing to advance this team any further than it already stood. Moves like adding Cahill and Kubel to supe up an already potent pitching rotation and offensive punch do that.

The 2012 offseason for the Giants will be marked by standing pat on an entire talent pool, and leaning on locking up fan-friendly figures to please an audience. Fat chance that method pulls in wins during this regular season, at least more than the pass-happy Diamondbacks, but crazier things have happened in the NL West.

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