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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Aoki signing a solid low-risk move

Well, with the free agent market dwindling and the Giants trying to avoid going the trade route to fill their left field void, there weren't a plethora of options for Brian Sabean to choose from. That being said, the decision to bring in Norichika Aoki on a one-year deal at $4M doesn't look too shabby at all.
Giants introduce Aoki Tuesday

No, it wasn't a big splash for Justin Upton, Yasmany Tomas or Ben Zobrist (who were all linked to the Giants at some point this offseason) but the Giants got themselves a player who's skill-set should translate well at AT&T Park. He may homer just a handful of times in 2015, but with his speed and contact ability, a 20-triple season may not be out of the question. He gets on base at an above-average clip, puts the ball in play with frequency and is lightening quick on the base-paths. He'll bring some versatility to the lineup as well, as can hit both atop the order or at the bottom. He gives Bochy a legit leadoff option on days Angel Pagan can't go and would be a fine 2-hole hitter if Joe Panik has some sophomore slumping in 2015. I kind of like the idea of having the speedsters 1-2 in the order but that stuff will all play itself out through spring training and the beginning of the year. He does have a higher OBP than Pagan the last few years too so he may end up in the leadoff spot with Pagan maybe moving down to third. Then there's the defensive flexibility with Aoki as well in the outfield where he's more than adequate at all three spots and provides a plus throwing arm.

So yes, the Aoki addition does improve the team. Ideally, the Giants would have found that big right-handed thumper to help fill the power void left by Sandoval and Morse but that's not part of Aoki's game. Heck, Blanco may have a little more pop than Aoki, but Aoki makes contact and drives the ball more regularly. Some are worried that Aoki and Blanco are too close to being the same type of player to make Aoki and big upgrade, but let's take a look at that real quickly. He surpasses Gregor in every aspect offensively and on the base-paths and they're close to a wash defensively, with Blanco getting an edge in range and Aoki maybe in the arm category. They are both somewhat light-hitting outfielders with great speed and good defense, but Aoki is clearly the better player. Plus, judging by Tuesday's press conference, I'm thinking he's going to fit right into the wide array of personalities that always seem to gel in the Giants clubhouse. I also thought it was cool how he wore his jersey when he appeared on CSN later in the evening with Brody Brazil to do an interview.

With Aoki's arrival, the big question I have now is what happens to Travis Ishikawa? The Giants just gave him over a $1M to return next year, but now with left-handed Nori Aoki starting in left and Blanco now sliding back into the fourth outfield role, they need a right-hander for that fifth spot. Juan Perez is penciled in there but Sabes could still go out and get a guy like Jonny Gomes to give them some pop off the bench and someone to spell Aoki against tough left-handed throwers. That said, there has been no indication made by the team that they're further pursuing outfielders.

Although they may be done adding to the positional part of the roster before spring, they still may still be pursuing starting pitching depth. It surfaced early Tuesday morning that Ryan Vogelsong reportedly close to a one-year deal with the Houston Astros (which apparently hit a snag cause it failed to happen). James Sheilds is still floating out there, someone the Giants apparently do like a lot, but have also let go as a possibility (especially after Scherzer just raked in over $200M.)...At this point, I think the Giants heavy lifting for the offseason is done.
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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Giants still searching for OF and rotation depth

With a little over a month now until pitchers and catchers file into Scottsdale, the Giants reported that Tim Hudson will undergo surgery to remove bone spurs from his right heel. He is expected to be out at least 8 weeks but the Giants are expecting him back in time to start the season.

Anyhow, it has sort of enhanced their search for rotation depth again. I mean with Huddy pushing 40 and the workload his small frame has endured the last 16 seasons, it's probably not a bad idea to look into adding some rotation depth. This guy was pitching for the A's when the Giants were still playing at Candlestick Park after all. Add that to the fact that Tim Lineceum couldn't get anybody out in the second half of last season and the Giants have major question marks surrounding at least 2 of their 5 starters heading into spring. They do have Yusmiero Petit as a fallback, but the Bochy prefers being able to use him in different roles and would rather not tie him into a rotation spot if they can avoid it (at least early on in the season). There were reports early on this week that the Giants had inquired about Dan Haren, who was just traded to Miami earlier this winter. Haren is coming off a decent year in LA and wouldn't be a bad option to replace Lincecum if Timmy struggles out of the gate as well. Ryan Vogelsong is also still dangling out there. I'll tell you one thing, with this news about Hudson and the Giants inability to get close with any other prominent free agent starter, it's sure making the return of Jake Peavy look better and better.

Now, as for their continuing search for a potential left fielder, I know I wasn't the only one that had to shake their head after the A's were able to land the guy many Giants fans were pinning for for. The A's picked up Ben Zobrist from Tampa Bay, along with Yunel Escobar, in exchange for 3 minor league players. Zobrist is hardly a superstar, but is a solid player that would have fit well with the Giants both in the clubhouse and in the middle of that batting order. I for one would have viewed an acquisition of Zobrist (granted the Giants didn't part with too much) as a potential savior in an otherwise bland offseason, and I wasn't the only one. Instead, the Giants are again left searching for a plan B, like they did at third base after missing Sandoval and like they did in the rotation after missing Lester. Last post, I mentioned Allen Craig as the other guy besides Zobrist as a reasonable bat to target in a trade, and now he's probably now taken over as the number one target I'd like to see them go after. Not far behind him would be Houston's Dexter Fowler who I think would be a tremendous fit in this yard both offensively and defensively almost like Melky was in '12.

At this point though, if they are unable to bring in an upgrade like Craig or Fowler, I'd be open to signing a guy like Nori Aoki and making Blanco strictly the 4th outfielder again and bringing some stability to the everyday lineup. He'd be an upgrade over Blanco and significantly so if he could re-discover his sneaky power that evaporated last season. He just does everything a little better than Gregor. Colby Rasmus is the kind of talent and situation I'd ideally like to roll the dice on a one-year deal with but I highly doubt  the Giants will take a chance on him with his reputation as a clubhouse cancer (although if there is a clubhouse that can change someone like that, it would be San Francisco's). Better yet, they could sign the combo of Aoki and Gomes and really add some depth out there, but in all likelihood the guy your going to be seeing the most of in left field this summer is Gregor Blanco.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Remaining options for Giants' roster

January 2015 is here and that means we're only about 6 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Scottsdale and the Giants begin their quest to repeat but they still have some work to do before then.

After the re-signing of Jake Peavy and the trade for Casey McGehee, the Giants may have put a wrap on their offseason. However, they remain linked to James Shields and continue to scour the market, mainly via trade, for a possible solution in left field.

The Giants obviously still have some money set aside that they were intending on giving to either Pablo Sandoval and/or Jon Lester, but they're not about to give it all away to Max Scherzer so you can give up on that dream. They have, however, stayed relevant in the James Shields sweepstakes, making us all wonder what would possibly happen if the Giants did somehow add the former Royals' ace. Talk of running out a possible 6-man rotation have been brought up, also a possible full-time move of Tim Lincecum to the bullpen would be an option. I think that if the Giants did get Shields though, their best move would be to trade Timmy (if they could) to someone like Seattle and swallow a large portion of his 2015 salary of $17.5M. Sending him to the bullpen may not go over well with him in his contract year and while he's taken his fall from glory the past few years very professionally, the Giants certainly don't want to disrespect a guy who helped elevate this franchise to the place they're at. I think Shields would make this rotation a clear-cut powerhouse again, with the return of a healthy Cain and a full year of Jake Peavy (6-4, 2.17 ERA, 1.04 WHIP in 78 IP after trade). I just don't see it happening though, and I think Shields will wind up in Boston or LA (either Dodgers or Angels).

While they continue to monitor Shields' situation, the Giants have to be mulling over the remaining outfield options out there and although there aren't many great options like Justin Upton was, they should be able to find someone of value if they want. Ben Zobrist's name came up prior to last season's trade deadline as a possibility at 2nd base for the Giants, and now he's been linked to the team again as a possible left field option. Zobrist is a versatile, strong defender with an above-average bat. He'd give Bochy a bunch of flexibility not only defensively but offensively too as Zobrist can hit anywhere in the order. With the Rays' recent acquisition of Asdrubal Cabrera, some are wondering if it's a precursor for a Zobrist deal, but we'll have to wait and see. Another option I'd like besides Zobrist if the Giants indeed go the trade route would be Boston's Allen Craig. The 30 year-old outfielder/first basemen put together three solid years in St. Louis from 2011-13 but then struggled a bit in 2014 before being sent to Boston, where he faded miserably at the end of the year. 2014's downfall plus Boston's gluttony of outfielders may make Craig available and relatively attainable.

Those would be the two guys I'd try and target if I'm Sabean, but I wouldn't hold my breath in hopes of reaching a deal for either one. A much more realistic option for the Giants, as the calender has flipped to January and 2015 has officially begun, will be scraping a bottom of the free agent barrel for a potential right-handed platoon partner for Gregor Blanco. Two guys that immediately come to mind who fit that bill are Ryan Ludwick and Jonny Gomes. Both have traditionally torched left-handed pitching and are coming off down years looking to sign one-year, make good deals. Of the two, I'd lean towards Gomes, who's a Bay Area native and has platooned vs. lefties his whole career. Ludwick may have slightly more upside just because he could get healthy and possibly take over the everyday left fielder job, but he's been next to worthless since 2012. Some other names that have been floating around the market are Cameron Maybin and Will Venable from San Diego, as the Padres now are stacked with 3 all-star caliber outfielders. Danial Nava and Shane Victorino are a couple of lesser desired Boston outfielders should they get desperate. Then there's Delmon Young, who would make Michael Morse look like a gold-glover out there and is also free after a solid 7/30/.302/.777 slash line in just 242 at-bats with Baltimore last season.

While I don't expect them to do anything major between now and the time pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Scottsdale next month, they should at least add another outfielder to the mix if nothing else. I'd give them an outside shot at ending up with Shields but I'd say the chances of it happening are slim to none.

I do want to wish all our readers a very happy new year. I truely appreciate those who read this blog regularly. We had some inconsistencies with our posting in 2014 but want to provide a more stable posting schedule for the upcoming year and get back to at least 1-2 posts per week. Hopefully 2015 is every ones best year yet and the Giants bring another one home in October!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Giants' new projected 25-man roster

Finally, on December 19th, the Giants have found their third basemen for the 2015 season. It wasn't a big deal like for David Freese, Pedro Alvarez or Ben Zobrist. Not even a Trevor Plouffe or Lonnie Chisenhall, who would have been at least interesting in a new league.

Instead, the Giants sent low-level minor league arms Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo to Miami for Casey McGehee. The 32 year-old third basemen hit .287 with 4 HR, 76 RBI and a .712 OPS in 2014, which won him NL Comeback Player of the Year honors. That's a higher average than Pablo Sandoval provided last year, but a huge fall-off in the power department. McGehee does have a track record of showing more power, including a 23 HR/104 RBI year for Milwaukee in 2010. The good part of this deal is the Giants didn't have to really part with any of their elite prospects, and that's probably what ultimately pushed them in the direction of McGehee. He does at least provide a better option at third than Arias and his right-handed bat will probably slot into the 6th spot in the order between Belt and Crawford. If this move were followed by a deal for a big bat in left, I'd be way more at ease, but chances are this will be it for the offense and runs will again be at a premium for the Giants' offense.

Now, with the return of Romo and Peavy coupled with the addition of McGehee, the Giants all of the sudden nearly have a 25-man roster now set for 2015. It's not going to be as flashy as I'm sure most were hoping, but nonetheless should find a way to compete as they often do with this core and under this management. The team could also still go out and find an upgrade in left seeing as they didn't part with any top-15 prospects even in this move, but I'm not going to bet on it. Maybe this spring or it could be their target for mid-season.

Here is what the 25-man roster is looking like after the last few moves this team has made:

CF Angel Pagan
2B Joe Panik
C Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
1B Brandon Belt
3B Casey McGehee
SS Brandon Crawford
LF Gregor Blanco

C/1B Hector Sanchez
IF Matt Duffy/Marco Scutaro?
IF Joaquin Arias
OF Travis Ishikawa
OF Juan Perez/C Andrew Sussac

LHP Madison Bumgarner
RHP Matt Cain
RHP Jake Peavy
RHP Tim Hudson
RHP Tim Lincecum

CL Santiago Casilla
SU Sergio Romo
LH Javy Lopez
LH Jeremy Affeldt
RH Jean Machi
RH Yusmiero Petit
RH Hunter Strickland

No, not exactly as exciting as the roster heading into last year when that lineup had Panda and Michael Morse, but there's still time to upgrade. Hopefully they're not quite done cause I'm not overly excited about that bunch. A full year of Panik and (fingers crossed) Pagan/Belt would certainly be a step in the right direction, but again, outside of catcher, this team is lacking depth. They also don't have a bunch of pop outside of their 3-5 hitters either. Pagan, Panik, Crawford, McGehee and Blanco, who will likely make up 5/8 of the lineup hit a combined 14 home runs a season ago. They still have some tough outs in there and some studs like Posey and Pence but for a team without a lot of speed and power in the lineup, they're going to have to get people on base with great frequency in order to manufacture their runs.

The bullpen is identical to the one that one the Series' in the fall, so I think everybody is pretty comfortable there. It should be fun to see how Hunter Strickland does from the start (assuming he makes the team), but other than that, we pretty much know what we should be getting. The starting rotation, however, looks slightly different from the one that finished last year as they'll be getting a fully healthy Matt Cain, which will almost be like adding a big free agent itself. The Giants are hoping both a full year of Peavy in the NL coupled with a healthy Matt Cain will have this rotation back up to it's dominant ways. As of now, they have Tim Lincecum penciled in as their 5th man, and I don't expect that to change unless someone miraculously takes him off the Giants' hands in some sort of trade. Timmy's got a interesting year ahead of him though as he's due for free agency again after this season, and his days of commanding top dollar or anything close are done unless he reverts back into Cy Young form in 2015. Bobby Evans said after Peavy was signed that the Giants wouldn't rule out adding another arm if something made sense so they're not thrilled with the idea of Timmy in the rotation either.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Friday, December 19, 2014

Giants hoping patience pays off

The offseason seems to really be heating up and despite all the action that's gone on over the last couple of weeks, one of the biggest markets in baseball and the reigning World Series champs have been one of the last to get going.

They did make their first notable moves of the offseason this week though, bringing back one of the most important components to their bullpen in Sergio Romo, and the guy they traded for last July, Jake Peavy. They re-signed Romo, to a 2 year/$15M deal. Romo is coming off a bit of a down year, as he started out strong in the closers role, but relinquished the gig part-way through the season to Santiago Casilla. Romo did start thriving again in the set-up role, and likely could have taken back over as closer had Casilla got into any kind of trouble, but it was never an issue. Romo will enter 2015 as the primary set-up man once again, but will be first in line should anything happen to Casilla. I like this deal a lot as Romo is still one of the best right-handed relievers in the game and the Giants were able to get him on just a two-year deal. With Casilla, Romo, Javy Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Jean Machi, Yusmiero Petit and a handful of other guys battling it out for that final spot (or two should Petit wind up in the rotation). Hunter Strickland probably has a leg up for it and would need to struggle pretty badly in spring to lose it. That means they'll be returning the exact same bullpen from last years championship squad.

They just now announced the Peavy signing while I was typing this up actually, so that changes my plans just a little bit. They're reportedly giving the 33 year-old right-hander a 2 year/$24M deal. Peavy was a guy who was clearly going to be atop the priority list with the way he pitched in the regular season after the trade. The former Cy Young winner had 12 starts with the Giants, going 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA over 78.2 IP. He posted a solid 58:17 strikeout to walk ratio while posting a 1.04 WHIP. Based off those numbers, the deal looks good, but the right-hander was surprisingly in-effective in the postseason for the Giants. He did have that one good start vs. the Nats in the NLDS but that was about it. He'll likely slot into the third or fourth spot in the Giants rotation come spring and it's not such a bad deal when you consider they didn't have to give up any trade chips and didn't end up giving James Shields or Ervin Santana some big 4/5 year deal. He's better than Santana, in my opinion, and is the same age as Shields with a similar track record. Peavy is a perfectly fine mid-rotation starter who clearly thrives in spacious NL West so this deal does make sense.

So, while Bobby Evans came out and said this move doesn't necessarily rule out the addition of another starter, the Giants full attention should now be shifted to the everyday lineup and the left side of the field. They still have all their potential trade chips available still, and without any starting caliber third basemen or left fielders left out on the open market, they may wind up making at least one trade in order to fill out their lineup. Obviously the apple of my eye was Atlanta's Justin Upton, although he's entering the last year of his deal and probably would want to explore free agency at the young age of 28 next winter. However, that possibility ended Friday after Upton was dealt to the Padres. He went on record of saying he didn't prefer hitting at AT&T Park, and maybe that's what made Sabean shy away, but he should soon find that AT&T is much more conducive to right-handers than Petco. By the way, I have a feeling the Padres are going to make some noise in 2015 after picking up a couple of all-star outfielders this week in Matt Kemp and now J-Up as well as up and coming star Wil Meyers.

But we return to the Giants, where only a few third basemen are apparently out on the block including Trevor Plouffe, Chris Johnson and Lonnie Chisenhall, none of which I'm sure get anybody too excited. Plouffe and Johnson each hit for power from the right side, while Chisenhall is more of a contact/average guy from the left side. Now, the one name who does intrigue me at the third base position if he is indeed available is Pedro Alvarez. The big left-handed slugger has legit 30-HR power, even though it comes with a .240 average, and I'd have no problem slotting him into the middle of the Giants order. Ben Zobrist from Tampa Bay has supposedly been on the Giants radar for a while now, and they could make Tampa an offer there. As far as the outfield market, I haven't head too many names being tossed around. One guy who I'm sure could be had and a player I've always liked to watch is Houston's Dexter Fowler. He's got some sneaky power, good speed and average and is a guy who can impact a game in multiple ways when he's on. He's a guy that wouldn't cost Kyle Crick, Joe Panik or Andrew Sussac either and could likely be had for a Clayton Blackburn/Gary Brown combo or something like that but that's just speculation on my part.

The Giants activity has certainly picked up in the last couple of days though, so an answer for left field and third base may come before Christmas, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Now that the trade market seems to make the most sense for them and their current needs, I expect them to continue their patient approach until something they can't pass up on presents itself. I do expect them to get a third basemen somewhere before spring training, but I'm not too sure about the left field spot. At this point, I can definitely see them at least entering the year with Blanco/Ishikawa sharing the duties and if they feel the need an offensive upgrade in season, that could be the area the do so at.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Giants should look to Scherzer

Well, so far, it's been a tough offseason for the Giants as they've failed at retaining Pablo Sandoval and came up short in the bidding for the top left-hander on the marker, Jon Lester.

In fairness to them, money was not an issue in either case, as they outbid both the Red Sox and Cubs for Sandoval and Lester, but the two just chose to take a different course. In Pablo's case, he wanted the bright lights and the challenge of playing for an East Coast powerhouse. I'm not quite sure why Lester choose Chicago over San Francisco though, as he's from the North West (Washington) and the Giants were supposedly offering more money than the $155M over six years that he signed for. But, instead of pondering what could have been, the Giants better get busy with plan B, cause they still have a lot of work to do and I expect the Lester signing to kick-start the starting pitching market. The other top guy out there, and the guy I originally wanted over Lester, is Max Scherzer, but the Giants were clearly more impressed with Lester so I'm not sure how serious they'd get with Scherzer. I just could see the power right-hander thriving in spacious AT&T Park, much like he's done at Comerica the last few seasons. The only thing is the 2013 Cy Young winner is looking for a deal in the $200M neighborhood. If they could get him in the 6 year/$170M range though, I'd go for it.

After Scherzer, things drop off significantly in the starting pitching market. James Shields, Ervin Santana (who they're meeting with Wednesday) and Brandon McCarthy are the next three in line, and none of those guys, outside of maybe Shields, would be worth a big multi-year deal. I am much more intrigued with the potential starting pitching trade market, with guys like Cole Hamels and Jordan Zimmermann heading the group rumored to be available but both would require a big package likely led by top prospect Kyle Crick.

Now as far as the efforts to replace Sandoval at third base and Michael Morse in left field, the Giants don't seem close to getting anything done, or at least they aren't making it public. We've all heard the expected Chase Headley rumors, but with I doubt the Giants will get into a bidding war for him now that he's the top third basemen out there. As rough as it sounds, I could definitely see the Giants going into next season with Matt Duffy and Joaquin Arias sharing third and Gregor Blanco and Travis Ishikawa battling it out in Spring Training for the lion's share of at-bats in left field. I could see the Giants signing a right-handed platoon option like Chris Denorfia for left field and maybe and maybe a second-tier third base option like a Mark Reynolds, but I don't see anything too flashy happening position wise this offseason. I think the Giants will try and put their resources into re-making that starting rotation into a strength and powerhouse once again, and a Max Scherzer signing or Cole Hamels trade would certainly be a leap in that direction.

Melky Cabrera and Justin Upton have been the two significant names linked to San Francisco in their attempt to fill the left field void with Upton rumors heating up Wednesday. The Giants have apparently also inquired about Braves third basemen Chris Johnson and may offer Atlanta a big multi-player package in attempt to obtain the two. I would be ecstatic if that came to fruition just cause I think Upton is a star and perenial MVP candidate who's just about to hit his prime. Not a huge CJ fan, but he'd definitely be an upgrade to Joaquin Arias over there.

Notes: As expected, the Giants tendered Travis Ishikawa and Hector Sanchez deals for 2015. Ishikawa may very well be the opening day starting left fielder, but if the Giants find someone else, he'll be a flexible left-handed bat off the bench. Sanchez's role is a little more unclear, however. Andrew Sussac really showed that he's not only a capable backup, but could likely be a starter in this league right now, and has leaped Sanchez on the depth chart. One of those two could very well be used as trade bait this winter too...With day two of the Winter Meetings in the book, the Giants have two more days to get something done before all the GM's and agents depart from San Diego and go their separate ways. I expect the Giants to make some kind of noise soon though. If not before the end of the meetings, then soon after.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Giants appear to be runners up for Sandoval

With Pablo Sandoval visiting Boston this week, it caused quite a stir on the East Coast and has every media outlet predicting the free agent third basemen will land with the Red Sox.

Now, the Giants are certainly not out of the running, but based on every indication being made from Pablo's camp and the Giants' behalf leads one to believe that the headlines are most likely true. The San Diego Padres have made a late push here as well, and although they're likely third in line behind Boston and San Francisco, their interest likely jacks up the price just a little bit. My guess is that whatever he decides, his decision will likely come sooner than later, and as much as it sucks to admit, I really do see him departing for Boston on a deal in the neighborhood of 6 years and $115M. With the ability to DH him when the time comes, the Red Sox should have no hesitation giving him an extra year or two than what the Giants will offer and you can't really blame the Giants in this case. It just makes sense for Pablo, the Red Sox and even the Giants. San Francisco is said to have offered Panda a deal in the same ballpark as the one they gave Hunter Pence (5 year/$90M), maybe even increasing the total salary up to $100M, but I don't think they'd go beyond that.

So, with the likelihood of the Giants facing life without Pablo Sandoval becoming a legitimate scenario now, the Giants need to be prepared to put a plan B in action, so let's just hope they have one. While they haven't been publicly linked to any free agent third basemen aside from Sandoval, they appear as willing as ever to make a splash in the international market. They had genuine interest in Jose Abreu last winter, and after witnessing his success and all the success recent Cuban defectors have had in the States, they could feel the time is right to make a move in that direction. They're one of about a half-dozen teams to have serious interest in the consensus number one international free agent, Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas. The 24 year-old right-hander has tremendous power and looks to be right in the same category as Yasiel Puig and Yeonis Cespedes. Not to say he'll have the success those two have had, but has a similar talent level not only at the plate, but also in the outfield as well. He was said to be Cuba's most prolific power hitter after Jose Abreu departed last year, but had a down season (due in large part to injury) last season. Tomas first hit MLB scout's radar with a big season at age 21 in 2012 and backed it with a nice showcase in the 2013. In the WBC that year he hit .412 (6-16) with 2 HR, a 2B and 4 RBI, then backed it up with a solid .289/.364/.538 line with 15 jacks, 54 RBI, 34 BB and 52 K's in 81 games during the regular season.

Tomas is not a player without his flaws though. He's got 30-HR/year potential as a big leaguer right now with plenty of room to grow after just turning 24 last week, but has some holes in his swing that he's reportedly been working on. Like with many of the incoming power bats from Cuba, his big power comes with a lot of swing-and-misses and the biggest concern may be whether or not he has enough discipline to hit for average in the big leagues. Like with all international players, it's a risk/reward type of signing that you have to figure out if the potential rewards outweigh the risks. Tomas isn't the only Cuban defector the Giants are looking at either. In addition to Tomas, the Giants are also interested in 19 year-old third base prospect Yoan Moncada. Unlike Tomas, Moncada isn't quite ready to be thrown into the fire in the big leagues, just because he doesn't have as much experience at 19, but he'll have plenty of time to develop and is said to have the most overall upside of any Cuban player available this winter. Tomas has the huge power, but Moncada may have a more polished all-around game and certainly should refine it even further at the minor league level.

Extras: Aside from the two international free agents, there haven't been many new names linked to the Giants in recent days and I don't think they'll really get serious with anyone until after the situation with Pablo sorts itself out. The Giants' brass all expect a decision before Thanksgiving on that front... Elsewhere, the Giants have expressed high interest in bringing back Sergio Romo, though Santiago Casilla is likely locked in as the closer for 2015 and Romo may be seeking a return to that role with a new team. I could easily see him departing for one of the SoCal teams, either the Dodgers or Angels, as he's from LA and both could use late inning relief help and have the funds to throw Romo a 3-year, $27-30M deal or whatever he's seeking. I just can't see the Giants giving him much more than $6-7M a year for 3 max though... The one possible replacement for Pablo Sandoval, should the situation present itself, who I've been monitoring and have talked about here is Chase Headley. He doesn't seem too close to a deal yet, but there are more teams in on him than Pablo as he's going to cost half the money annually and probably half the years that Pablo will. He's no Panda, but if the Giants could grab Headley, upgrade in left field and bring in another #3-type starting pitcher, they'd be just fine without Panda.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________
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