Buster Posey

San Francisco Giants: 2014 Preview

Mar 12, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) is taken out of the game by manager Bruce Bochy (15) against the Chicago White Sox at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The San Francisco Giants have one mission for the 2014 season. The Giants hope to prove that the 2013 season was a fluke and that they’re ready to contend for not just a playoff spot but also another World Series title.

Here’s a preview of the Giants’ 2014 season:

Are the San Francisco Giants Playoff-Bound in 2014?

Sep 29, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) thanks the fans after the final game of the season at AT

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

After winning two World Series titles between 2010 and 2012, the San Francisco Giants entered the 2013 season with great expectations. Despite a nearly identical starting lineup and starting pitching rotation as in 2012, the Giants struggled to re-capture the magic in 2013 that they experienced in 2012.

The Giants finished the 2013 season with a 76-86 record, which was third in the NL West. They had to deal with some injuries to key players, poor defense, fatigue, and inconsistent starting pitching.

The Giants have addressed some of these issues so far in the offseason, and they hope that the corresponding roster moves that they’ve made will propel them to the playoffs in 2014. Let’s examine these moves and determine if these changes will lead to a playoff berth.

First of all, Brian Sabean made it a priority to re-sign Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum before the 2013 season was over. He didn’t want them to test free agency and potentially sign with another team.

Sabean was able to re-sign Pence to a five-year, $90 million contract. In 2013, Pence hit .283 with 27 home runs and 99 RBI, and he played in all 162 games. He also stole 22 bases, had a .339 OBP, and a .483 slugging percentage.

Off the field, he is the heart and soul of this Giants team. He has an incredible work ethic, he plays with a lot of heart, he hustles no matter what the score is, and he’s a great teammate. Pence made it perfectly clear that he wanted to stay a Giant, and he said that he understood the responsibility that comes with such a large contract.

Jul 13, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) is congratulated by starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) after a diving catch during the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

After re-signing Pence, Sabean then re-signed Tim Lincecum to a two-year, $35 million deal. This was a controversial signing. Although Lincecum has been a longtime fan favorite, he hasn’t pitched like a two-time Cy Young Award winner in the past couple seasons.

In 2012, he had a 5.18 ERA in 186 innings, and in 2013, he had a 4.37 ERA in 197.2 innings. Lincecum has struggled with his command, and he’s had to evolve as a pitcher in order to stay relevant and serviceable. He did throw a no-hitter last season though, and he showed elements of brilliance in the second half of the season. Despite his struggles, he will be a key part of the starting pitching rotation in 2014.

The Giants also re-signed fan favorite Ryan Vogelsong, who will be the fifth pitcher in the starting rotation. After not picking up his $6.5 million contract option for 2014, the Giants signed Vogelsong to a one-year, $5 million contract.

The Giants also brought back left-handed specialist Javier Lopez and signed him to a three-year, $13 million contract. This was a key signing, because his ability to strike out left-handed batters is unique and extremely valuable.

The Giants also signed some new faces this offseason. The Giants desperately needed another starting pitcher, so they signed Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23 million deal. Hudson, a 14-year veteran starting pitcher, had a 3.97 ERA, struck out 95, and walked 36 in 131.1 innings in 21 starts last season. Hudson suffered a gruesome ankle injury in July 2013, which cut his season short. He has recovered well and is expected to be ready to pitch by spring training.

Another significant addition to the Giants is Michael Morse, who is expected to be the Giants’ everyday left fielder. The Giants signed Morse to a one-year, $6 million deal plus incentives based on plate appearances, which could lead to $3 million more.

Last season, he struggled at the plate because of a wrist injury, but he had his best season in 2011 with the Nationals when he hit .303 with 31 home runs, 95 RBI, and he had a .360 OBP and a .550 slugging percentage. Morse brings some much-needed right-handed power to the Giants.

Given all these additions and signings, the Giants will enter the 2014 season with a more complete roster. Their starting lineup in 2014 will most likely be: Pagan CF, Scutaro 2B, Belt 1B, Posey C, Pence RF, Sandoval 3B, Morse LF, Crawford SS, and the pitcher’s spot.

Oct 22, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro (19), catcher Buster Posey (28), and third baseman Pablo Sandoval (second from right) celebrate after all scored on a two-RBI double by right fielder Hunter Pence (not pictured) as first baseman Brandon Belt (far right) looks on during the third inning of game seven of the 2012 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT

If everyone remains healthy, which is key for the Giants, then this lineup could definitely propel the Giants to another NL West title or at least another playoff berth. This lineup is well-balanced and has speed, power, and versatility.

The starting pitching rotation will be something like: Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Hudson, Lincecum, and Vogelsong. Cain was uncharacteristically inconsistent last season, but given his history of dominance and his work ethic, it seems as if he’ll bounce back and have another stellar season in 2014. Bumgarner was the ace of the pitching staff last season, and he’s one of the best, most intriguing pitchers in MLB.

Hudson is getting older, but he’s a veteran and will benefit from pitching in the pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. Lincecum and Vogelsong are both question marks going into next season, in terms of production.

The success of the starting pitchers will determine the Giants’ season and if they’ll make the playoffs in 2014. It’s somewhat unclear how some of the pitchers will perform next season, but Giants fans should be hopeful that the extra rest this offseason will help the starting pitchers perform better.

Oddly, not making the playoffs in 2013 was a blessing in disguise for the Giants. After playing so many playoff games in 2010 and 2012 (especially having so many potential elimination games in 2012), the Giants clearly and understandably looked fatigued at several points in 2013.

This certainly explains Cain’s struggles and some of the injuries that occurred to players who participated in the World Baseball Classic before the 2013 season. Posey even said he was going to condition differently during this offseason because his legs felt sore and tired at the end of the 2013 season.

At this point, the 2014 Giants’ team can only be judged on paper. Obviously, health is key to the Giants’ success, but, if key players remain healthy, it seems as if the Giants will have a great shot at making the playoffs in 2014.

Who Will Be the Starting Left Fielder for the San Francisco Giants in 2014?

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

After failing to make the playoffs just a year after winning the World Series, the San Francisco Giants have several areas that need to be addressed in the offseason. Most importantly, the Giants need to find a serviceable starting left fielder for next season.

Jun 14, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco (7) is greeted at the dugout by team mate left fielder Andres Torres (56) after a lead off home run against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants entered this season with a left-field platoon of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres. When Angel Pagan got injured, these two players, who aren’t everyday players, were expected to start in both center field and left field. The Giants’ offense struggled in Pagan’s absence and they saw why they need to acquire a player who can play in left field every day.

Now that the Giants’ 2013 season is over and they’re officially in the offseason, which left fielders should they pursue in free agency? Who are some candidates for the starting left fielder for the Giants in the 2014 season?

Some players in the Giants organization that could start in left field are Blanco (who is eligible for arbitration), Juan Perez, Francisco Peguero and Roger Kieschnick. As mentioned before, the Giants saw that Blanco can’t hit consistently enough to be an everyday left fielder, but he will certainly earn some spot starts next season and could come into games as a defensive replacement.

Peguero and Kieschnick didn’t show enough this season to prove to the Giants that they can hit consistently at the major league level and Blanco is superior to both of them in terms of defense. Therefore, these two players don’t make much sense to start in left field. That leaves Perez. He has the greatest chance out of anyone in the Giants organization of becoming the starting left fielder.

Perez is extremely talented defensively. He can play all three outfield spots, and he has great range because of his speed. He also has a strong arm and can throw out anyone on the basepaths.

Jun. 9, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: San Francisco Giants outfielder Juan Perez hits an RBI single in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Offensively, he struggled when he was called up the first time by the Giants, but he started to improve near the end of the season. In September, he hit .277 with one home run and five RBIs. Overall, he hit .333 with runners in scoring position, and he hit .333 against right-handed pitchers. If Perez continues to improve his hitting and has a strong spring training, he could possibly be the starting left fielder for the Giants.

One other possibility within the Giants organization is Brandon Belt. The Giants are one of many teams that are considering signing seven-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann. The Giants have discussed moving Buster Posey to first base for a long time, in order to preserve his health. By signing McCann, the Giants would officially move Posey to first base and move Belt to left field. Belt, defensively, is an elite first baseman and, if he gets moved to left field, hopefully his stellar defense would translate.

Outside of the Giants organization, here are some left fielders, or outfielders in general, the Giants could pursue in free agency, but who would probably come at a higher price than some others.

One possibility is Shin-Soo Choo, who is coming off of a fantastic 2013 season with the Cincinnati Reds when he hit .285 and had 21 home runs, 54 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, a .423 OBP and a .462 slugging percentage. He would be a great addition to this Giants team because he’s fast and he’d provide the Giants with a much-needed left-handed power bat. The 31-year-old might come at too high of a price though. His agent, Scott Boras, thinks Choo could command a multi-year deal worth $90 million to $100 million. The asking price might not be quite that high, but, regardless, Choo might be out of the Giants’ price range.

Sep 3, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo (17) prepares to bat during the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Another outfielder the Giants could pursue, who might be a pricey signing, is Curtis Granderson. The 32-year-old has played center field for the majority of his career, but he will most likely move to a corner outfield spot in the coming seasons because of his age and recent troubles with injuries. He was injured for much of this past season and only played in 61 games. Like Choo, Granderson would also provide the Giants with a left-handed power bat. He had consecutive 40-plus home run seasons for the New York Yankees in 2011-12. Even if he did miss most of this past season, he will still probably command a large contract because of his serious power.

Here are a couple players the Giants could sign in a lower price range. The first option is David Murphy. Last season with the Texas Rangers, he hit .220, had 13 home runs, 45 RBI, had a .282 OBP and a .374 slugging percentage. However, he hit .291 in 2010, he hit .275 in 2011, and he hit .304 in 2012. He didn’t exactly have a compelling stat line in 2013, but he could be a great fit for the Giants. The 32-year-old could provide some speed and left-handed power and he’s an excellent left fielder defensively. In addition, he would come at a lower price than the two other previously mentioned free agents because he’s coming off a poor season.

Oct 8, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder David DeJesus (7) hits a RBI single during the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox of game four of the American League divisional series at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Another option is David DeJesus. The 33-year-old is a versatile outfielder who can play all three outfield positions well. Last season, he played for the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and the Tampa Bay Rays and he hit .251, had eight home runs, 38 RBI, five stolen bases had a .327 OBP, and a .402 slugging percentage. His stat line isn’t super flashy, but he does a lot of things well. He’s versatile, he’s solid defensively, he can provide some speed and some power, he can hit for average, and he finds ways to get on base. He would be a great addition to the Giants.

The Giants have many options to find their starting left fielder for the 2014 season. They can look within the organization, whether that means starting Juan Perez or moving Belt to left field after signing someone like Brian McCann. They can also look at the free agent market and go for a big-name, high-price signing, such as Choo or Granderson. They could also sign a free agent at a lower cost, which would be more of a low risk move with the potential for a high reward. It’ll be interesting to see how the Giants decide to address this.

San Francisco Giants: Should They Sign Brian McCann?

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Buster Posey is the leader of the San Francisco Giants. He’s the face of the franchise and he’s their best position player. At 26, he is a two-time World Series champion, a two-time All-Star, the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year, the 2012 NL batting champion, and the 2012 NL MVP. Defensively, he’s caught a perfect game by Matt Cain, he’s caught a no-hitter by Tim Lincecum, and he’s been the catcher for an elite pitching staff that has helped the Giants win two World Series in the past three seasons.

Aug 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) smiles during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports, the Giants are one of many teams considering signing seven-time All-Star Brian McCann this offseason. Of course, this report is purely speculative. This doesn’t mean the Giants will actually sign McCann, but Heyman mentions that the Giants will at least explore the idea.

So, why would the Giants even consider signing another catcher, when they have a superstar catcher in Posey? Well, there might be some sense to this craziness.

There are a few reasons why the Giants should sign McCann. First of all, McCann could provide the Giants with exactly what they’re missing. The Giants need a left-handed bat with power, which will be a hot commodity among many MLB teams this offseason. Last season, McCann hit .256 with 20 home runs and 57 RBI in 102 games. Belt’s emergence this season as a legitimate power threat is certainly helpful to the Giants, but having more left-handed power in addition to Belt’s power could be quite advantageous to the Giants.

Second, having McCann behind the plate would ensure Posey’s health and stability. By signing McCann, the Giants would have to move Posey to first base and Brandon Belt to left field. Would this be a smart move though?

Let’s start by examining Posey’s move to first base. Posey is one of the best catchers in all of MLB, but Bruce Bochy sometimes starts him at first base in order to preserve his health. Catcher is a physically grueling position to play, and since Posey suffered a serious injury to his ankle only a couple years ago, Bochy wanted to ensure Posey’s safety and health for the entirety of a season. The Giants have even discussed moving Posey to first base permanently later on in his career.

Jul 19, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) throws out Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero (not pictured) during the fourth inning at AT

Posey has said publicly that he understands why it makes sense for the team and for himself to start at first base occassionally but that he wants to remain an everyday catcher in the future. He loves how cerebral the catcher position is, and, given how intelligent and thoughtful Posey is about baseball, it seems like the perfect position for him. However, the Giants might ultimately decide that Posey’s health is more important than his desire to catch.

Now let’s examine what moving Brandon Belt to left field would mean for the Giants. Belt is smart on defense and has great instincts, so he could play left field adequately but maybe not as effortlessly as he does at first base. Defensively, Belt is one of the best first basemen in the NL. It’s unclear if he could play left field as effectively as he plays first base over the course of a whole season.

McCann is an elite catcher, offensively and defensively. Not many teams would say no to a catcher of McCann’s caliber … but maybe the Giants should.

Moving Posey to first base or even third base eventually would make sense for Posey and the Giants. However, he’s still young and wants to catch. The Giants don’t want to upset their best player and the leader of their franchise. Not only does he want to catch, but he should catch. He’s an elite catcher, and he knows the pitching staff better than anyone. The pitching staff trusts him and knows that Posey will do whatever he can to help a pitcher and his team win. Posey is also a student of the game. He’s diligent in his scouting of the Giants’ opponents. Also, he’s fundamentally sound in his catching.

In addition, Belt is an elite first baseman, defensively. Belt is only 25, and he’ll certainly win many Gold Gloves in his career…if he stays at first base. Belt has already made several adjustments to his swing, which have propelled him towards reaching the immense amount of potential that he’s always had. The Giants shouldn’t force him to play a position where he’s not as comfortable, especially since he is just starting to become a complete player.

McCann is an incredible player. There are several arguments for why the Giants should sign him and for why the Giants shouldn’t sign him. Who knows if the Giants will actually pursue him, but the Giants will have to face some tough decisions if they think he’s worth signing.

Why the San Francisco Giants Need to Re-Sign Hunter Pence

August 12, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence (8) celebrates after hitting a three-run home run against the Colorado Rockies in the eighth inning at AT

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Many players tend to have a great all-around season when they are going to be free agents at the end of the season. By doing this, they get the opportunity to sign a new long-term, hefty contract in the offseason. This is exactly what Hunter Pence has done this season for the Giants.

Pence will be a free agent at the end of this season, and he’s having a fantastic year for the San Francisco Giants. Pence is hitting .290 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI. He also has a .340 OBP, .477 slugging percentage, and a .817 OPS. Since the All-Star break, he’s hitting .338 with eight home runs and 34 RBI.

Pence will be a free agent at the end of this season, and he and the Giants have reportedly begun discussions toward a contract extension. Although he will probably command a fairly large contract, he might be worth it. Pence has said that he wants to re-sign here, and it seems like many of the other Giants players want him here too.

“It’s hard not to be a huge fan of Hunter,” Buster Posey said. “He gives 100 percent from the time he gets here to the time he leaves. He’s probably the hardest worker I’ve ever seen.”

Here are a few reasons why the Giants need to re-sign Pence in the offseason.

First of all, in addition to his impressive stat line, Pence has also started every single game this year. He has an incredible work ethic, he’s extremely fit, and he gives 100 percent on every single play, no matter what the score or the team’s record is. This is the type of guy a team would want leading a clubhouse. He’s a great role model for the younger players, and, he also knows a thing or two about giving a motivational speech.

Second, he provides some protection for Posey in the lineup. Bruce Bochy usually has Posey hit cleanup and, as of recently, has Brandon Belt hitting third, so Pence is the perfect person to hit fifth. If an opposing team wants to pitch around Posey, they’ll have to face Pence. Pence has power, finds ways to get RBI’s, and has a good OBP, so he’s the perfect player to have hitting behind Posey.

Aug 2, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) singles during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. San Francisco Giants defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 2, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) singles during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. San Francisco Giants defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Third, he’s beloved by all Giants fans. His determination, his work ethic, his quirkiness, and his gratitude immediately made him a fan favorite. He’s extremely likable, and he has a lot of character. He’s the perfect representation of this franchise and their fanbase.

Fourth, Pence is an all-around, quality player that would be valuable to this Giants team in the future. As mentioned before, Pence has had a solid year offensively. Most importantly, he brings some much-needed power to this team. Pence has also stolen 21 bases so far this year. Pence became just the seventh player in Giants history to reach the 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases milestone.

Pence joins an elite 20-20 club of Giants including Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Willie Mays, Jeffrey Leonard, Glenallen Hill, and Orlando Cepeda. Any major league club would love to have another base stealer, so Pence is even more valuable to the Giants in that sense.

Defensively, he’s quite strong as well. Since he’s in the best shape of his life right now, he’s even quicker in the outfield and is able to get to more flyballs because of it. Especially since the Giants were so poor defensively this year, Pence’s consistent, reliable defense in right field would be important for the Giants to keep around.

The Giants have three key players who will become free agents in the offseason: Pence, Javier Lopez, and Tim Lincecum. They need to determine which of these three players they want to bring back and how much they are willing to spend on them. Ideally, for Giants fans, the Giants would be able to bring back all three. Financially, it’s not clear if that’s possible.

Re-signing Pence should be a top priority for the Giants this offseason. He’s a talented, versatile player who could really help the Giants next season. He’s also a hard worker, a fan favorite, and he’s a veteran leader in the clubhouse. The Giants need to find a way to bring Pence back next season.

Should the San Francisco Giants Shut Down Buster Posey?

Aug 18, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) looks on from the dugout during the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

During the San Francisco Giants’ game against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, Buster Posey injured his right ring finger on a pitch from Madison Bumgarner. The fingernail on his right ring finger was ripped off, but it was later revealed that Posey actually has a “small fracture” on the tip of his finger.

Posey said, based on what the training staff has told him, that he’s hopeful that it’s a manageable injury. It won’t require surgery, but he might have to wear a hard plastic piece on his finger when he returns.

“From everything I’m hearing, hopefully in a couple days it’ll calm down and I can play through it,” Posey said.

Is it worth it to the Giants to let Posey play through it though? The Giants are out of the hunt for a playoff spot, so, even though it’s a minor fracture, should the Giants instead just shut down Posey for the rest of the season?

There are a couple reasons why the Giants should consider shutting him down. First of all, if Posey keeps playing, there would potentially be a higher risk of him injuring his finger even more. The Giants are playing meaningless games right now, so it simply doesn’t make sense to keep playing one of their most important players just so he can finish the season.

Bruce Bochy has already said that fatigue is probably a major reason why the Giants have struggled so much this season. Posey is too valuable to this team to risk any further injury, especially if his body is already fatigued.

Second, by shutting down Posey, it will give Hector Sanchez an opportunity to be the everyday catcher for the rest of the season. This will allow the Giants to evaluate how much Hector Sanchez has improved since last season and since his slow start this season.

Bochy said that he plans on giving Sanchez plenty of starts.

“I’m probably going to keep running Hector out there,” Bochy said. “He needs to play. He’s making progress, but there’s still work to be done. You’ve got to remember how much time he missed and his age.”

Aug 27, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Hector Sanchez (29) hits an RBI double during the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Sanchez had a quality 2012 season when he hit .280 with three home runs and 34 RBI’s in 74 games. He’s only played in 47 games so far this season, and he’s hit .264 with three home runs and 18 RBI’s. He’s shown improvement in his at-bats as he’s become more patient at the plate. He currently has a .330 OBP this year compared to a .295 OBP last season.

Sanchez has been a solid backup catcher for the Giants, and he could be a valuable piece to this Giants team next season. He’s a switch hitter, which would give the Giants some versatility off the bench. When he’s healthy, he has a strong throwing arm, and he has some power too. He could improve on blocking balls and his footwork behind the plate, so this would be the perfect opportunity for him to work on that.

In addition to evaluating Sanchez for the rest of the season, the Giants could also get a better look at Johnny Monell, who they brought up from Fresno with the other September call-ups.

Monell had a great spring training with the Giants, but they decided to bring Guillermo Quiroz onto the final 25-man roster, because Quiroz is a better catcher defensively than Monell. This season with the Grizzlies, Monell hit .275 with 20 home runs and 64 RBI’s in 121 games, and he had a .364 OBP and a .494 slugging percentage.

Monell has great power and has above average arm strength as a catcher. Monell could improve defensively though, which is exactly why the Giants should consider starting him a few times before the end of the season.

Even though the Giants are playing meaningless games right now, they still should try to finish the season strong. There is an understandable argument to have Posey play after a few days of rest, so he can possibly help the Giants go on a run and carry some of that momentum into next season.

However, the Giants should rely on someone else, perhaps Angel Pagan, to bring the energy into the last stretch of the season. Posey is the best player on this team, and the Giants need to make sure he’s healthy going into next season.