Juan Perez

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:

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San Francisco Giants: Position Battle Updates

Feb 26, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Francisco Giants pitcher Jose Casilla (72) stands with his teammates during opening ceremonies at Scottsdale Stadium prior to their exhibition game with the Oakland Athletics. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Going into Spring Training for the San Francisco Giants, there were about four or five open spots on their 25-man roster.

The position battles that have to be worked out in Spring Training are for two, possibly three, spots in the bullpen, a backup infielder spot, and a fifth outfielder spot.

Here are some updates on each position battle:

San Francisco Giants: 6 Players Who Need A Great Spring

Feb 26, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Francisco Giants pitcher Jose Casilla (72) stands with his teammates during opening ceremonies at Scottsdale Stadium prior to their exhibition game with the Oakland Athletics. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Spring Training is finally underway for the San Francisco Giants. They had their first Cactus League game yesterday, and it’s time for players to start competing for playing time or a spot on the 25-man roster.

Here are six players on the Giants who have something to prove and who need to have a great spring:

Predicting the San Francisco Giants’ 2014 Opening Day 25-Man Roster

Oct 25, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants players from left Hunter Pence , Joaquin Arias , Gregor Blanco , Sergio Romo and Buster Posey celebrate after game two of the 2012 World Series against the Detroit Tigers at AT&T Park. The Giants won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

After a disappointing 2013 season, the San Francisco Giants knew they’d have to improve in the offseason. They signed Michael Morse and Tim Hudson, in order to address some of their weaknesses.

The Giants have made improvements to their roster, but there are still a few position battles that need to be resolved before Opening Day.

Here’s what the Giants’ 2014 Opening Day 25-man roster will most likely look like:

Will the San Francisco Giants Use Another Left Field Platoon in 2014?

Jun 13, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco (7) reacts in the dugout after scoring a run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The San Francisco Giants headed into the offseason with a couple important areas to address. First of all, they had to upgrade their starting rotation. To address this, they signed Tim Hudson, re-signed Tim Lincecum, and re-signed Ryan Vogelsong. Next on the list is to address the left field situation.

The Giants are stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place in terms of finding a left fielder. Giants management is wary about spending the big bucks to get a big-name free agent like Shin-Soo Choo. They’re also wary about giving up some of their top prospects, such as Kyle Crick, Edwin Escobar and Chris Stratton, in order to trade for a serviceable everyday left fielder.

In addition to these problems, there aren’t many outfielders currently on the market that could be signed at a lower price level. The Giants have been connected to some of them, such as Brett Gardner and Jeff Baker, but those are purely just speculative rumors.

It seems as if the Giants will ultimately go with another left field platoon this season. Giants fans might not be happy about it, but the Giants seem content about going into the 2014 season with a platoon of Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez.

Giants fans know what Blanco can bring to the Giants. His strongest asset is his superior defense. He’s fast so he can cover a lot of ground, he can play all three outfield positions and he has a strong arm. Offensively, he failed to find that consistency that the Giants needed from him when Angel Pagan went down with his hamstring injury.

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

There are actually a lot of similarities between how Blanco and Perez play. Like Blanco, Perez is very talented defensively. He can also play all three outfield spots, he also has great range and he also has a strong, accurate arm.

Offensively, Perez would provide the right-handed bat in the platoon. When he was first called up by the Giants last season, he struggled to find consistency. However, when he was called up again in September, he started to feel more comfortable at the plate. In September, he hit .277 with one home run and five RBI. Overall, he hit .333 with runners in scoring position and he hit .333 against right-handed pitchers.

Both Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean have said that their main focus right now in the winter meetings is to find a left fielder. However, Bochy also said that he was very impressed with Perez’ play at the end of the 2013 season and that a Blanco-Perez platoon “is a pretty good safety valve. I’m pretty comfortable that if nothing happens, at least we have him.”

If the Giants do decide to go with a Blanco-Perez platoon in 2014, it will certainly improve their defense. Torres was the weak link, defensively, in last season’s left field platoon with Blanco, and Perez is certainly a defensive upgrade from Torres.

Offensively, it’s unclear if Perez could consistently contribute at the plate over the course of a full season. Also, since he’d be splitting starts with Blanco, he’d have to adjust to not playing everyday and not getting consistent at-bats. This would be a tough adjustment for a young hitter, so, even though Perez would be an upgrade defensively, there’s still a lot of uncertainty about his ability to hit consistently.

A Blanco-Perez platoon might not be ideal, but Giants management seems confident that Perez can continue his hot streak from 2013 and carry some of that momentum into the 2014 season, if he does in fact form a platoon with Blanco.

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: The Case to Give Younger Players More Starts

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The San Francisco Giants were officially eliminated from the NL West Monday night. The Giants won’t be winning a wild-card playoff spot either, so it’s officially time for the organization to start looking towards the future.

February 20, 2013; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Heath Hembree (72) poses for a picture during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants called up many young, promising players from their AAA affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, at the beginning of this month. They brought back some familiar faces such as Jake Dunning, George Kontos, Francisco Peguero, Nick Noonan, and Juan Perez. They also brought up some prospects that hadn’t made their major league debuts yet such as Johnny Monell, Ehire Adrianza, and Heath Hembree.

Since the September call-ups, not many of these prospects have started games or seen a significant amount of playing time though. Bruce Bochy seems adamant about starting his regular players for the rest of the season.

“I’ll find my spots to get [the callups] in the game,” Bochy said. “Some of them will start, but at the same time, we’re going to be playing to win every game. Our regulars are going to be out there.”

Bochy’s stance is understandable. After an extremely disappointing season, Bochy wants this team to finish this season strong. Even if it’s impossible to make the playoffs, they could still finish off the season on a run and carry some of that momentum into next season. If they finish on a good note, then it’s more likely that the returning Giants players will come into spring training with a better attitude and will be more focused on getting back to the playoffs next season.

Although that argument verifies that Bochy should continue to start the regular players, it’s time to at least start mixing in some of the prospects. Bochy doesn’t necessarily have to do a starting lineup with just the prospects, but it would be wise to give each of them some starts occasionally. This will give them some experience in the major leagues, it will make them more confident about their game, and it will potentially put some of them in a better position to make next season’s roster.

For example, Hembree has a great shot at making an impact next season for the Giants. In fact, Hembree almost made the 25-man roster coming into this season. He has only appeared in three games so far this season for the Giants, but he has been very impressive so far. He currently has a 0.00 ERA with three strikeouts and two walks in three innings. He also has only allowed one hit.

He has shown great command of all his pitches, and he throws hard. He could easily make the 25-man roster next season and be one of a couple right-handed set-up men for Sergio Romo. After gaining some more experience in Fresno this year, he looks like he’d be ready to contribute effectively next season.

February 20, 2013; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Johnny Monell (79) poses for a picture during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Although he most likely won’t make next season’s roster, it would be interesting to see Monell get some starts too. Since Buster Posey is still playing with a small fracture in his right ring finger, it’d make sense for the Giants to rest him more or at least give him a break from catching.

Hector Sanchez will certainly get a fair number of starts at catcher for the rest of the season, but Monell could really use some more experience behind the plate. Monell has great power, but he needs to work on his defense. Giving him a few starts would be a great opportunity to see what he can do and what he can work on.

Adrianza is another prospect that should get a few starts. Adrianza is known for his defense at shortstop, but he started to improve on his offense once he was promoted to the Grizzlies earlier this season. The Giants should give him a couple spot starts to see if he truly has become more proficient with the bat.

The Giants, for the most part, already know what they’ll get out of Dunning, Kontos, Peguero, Noonan, and Perez. Dunning and Kontos will definitely get some consistent playing time out out of the bullpen, since Bochy wants to utilize his larger staff of relief pitchers. Perez and Peguero will most likely get some spot starts in left field, and it’s not clear how much playing time Noonan will get, besides pinch-hit opportunities.

The 2013 season for the Giants is almost over, but it’s not too late to give their prospects a chance to prove why they deserve to make next season’s roster. It’s time to focus on 2014 and which prospects could make an impact.