The weather outside may be frightful, but the fire inside the San Francisco Giants organization remains delightful. The unspeakable high of dismantling three of the best teams in baseball– the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Texas Rangers– en route to capturing the 2010 World Series surrounds this team like a warm glow as they go about fine tuning the roster in preparation for the 2011 campaign.
It must be extremely enjoyable for General Manager Brian Sabean at the MLB Winter Meetings this week in Lake Buena Vista, Florida; to know that the toys you really want are already wrapped and under the Christmas tree, and it’s now all about tidying up loose ends and doing some tweaking.
Not to say there aren’t several major bits of unfinished business yet to be done: Andres Torres, Cody Ross, and several key relievers need to be packaged up. And Sabean is a determined disciple of the church of starting-pitching-depth-can-never-be-deep-enough. So expect a Major League-capable starter or two to be deposited in Triple A Fresno just in case.
Other than that, Sabean and Manager Bruce Bochy can enjoy sitting in the hotel’s plush leather chairs, sipping single malt scotch and Shafer Hillside Select Cab, watching from a distance as frantic GMs from other teams scramble to see who gets Carl Pavano, George Sherrill, and Jay Gibbons. Or Jack Cust.
“My god,” Bochy might casually remark to Sabean, “look at those poor bastards running around the lobby…”.
On another front, it is disappointing the organization feels it needs to go outside for a back-up shortstop behind the newly signed, but somewhat elderly, Miguel Tejada. The Giants have a number of great looking prospects in the mix, but there are issues.
Soon to be twenty-six year-old Emmanuel Burriss, recovered from two foot fractures, is hitting poorly in the 2010 Dominican Winter League, posting a .244 average as of a week ago. Burriss is probably the best defensive option the team has a short, but great range and a slick glove is not enough at the big league level; if a back-up shortstop has to replace Tejada for any reason, the Giants also expect an offensive contribution.
Brandon Crawford, who will turn 24 in 2011, is one of two up and coming shortstops currently playing in the Giants’ minor league system. Crawford batted .241 in 79 games at Double A Richmond with a .712 OPS. The lefty hitting Crawford was a star at UCLA and by all accounts his glove and arm are at the big league level now. So far, his hitting is not.
The other top shortstop prospect in the minors is twenty-one year old switch-hitter Ehire Adrianza, who scored 70 runs in 124 games for the Single A San Jose Giants in 2010. Adrianza batted .256, had a 69% stolen base success rate (33-15), and has tremendous range and a strong arm. I expect the Giants feel Adrianza is still a couple of years away, but I think he could emerge as an October surprise in 2011.
Who will the team sign to back up Tejada? Several names have been out there a while: Orlando Cabrera, 36, played in 123 games and batted .263 for Cincinnati in 2010; thirty-one year old Ramon Santiago got into 112 games for Detroit and also hit .263; and World Series MVP Edgar Renteria is apparently still somewhere in the mix.
In a perfect world, Brandon Crawford would step in and be mentored by Miguel Tejada for a year before taking over the position in 2012, but now that appears unlikely. And while it may be inaccurate to describe the Giants current world as “perfect”, it’s still a damn pleasant place to be.