Thoughts on the Pagan and Scutaro Signings

pagan scutaro

As everyone surely knows by now, the Giants crossed two of their biggest wants off of their holiday wish list at this week’s Winter Meetings, as they resigned CF Angel Pagan and 2B Marco Scutaro to long-term deals.  Here are some of my quick thoughts on these deals:

ANGEL PAGAN

The deal for Angel Pagan, valued at 4 years and $40-million, seems a little too generous to me.  I’m fine with the $10-million per year part, as the going market for center fielders shot through the roof this offseason (Victorino got 3/$39!!!!).  I have a very bad feeling that the 4th year (maybe the 3rd year as well) of this deal is going to be deadful.  Pagan will be entering the 4th year of this deal in a year in which he will be turning 35 years old, while making $10-million dollars.  In the last 3 years, the only regular CF who was at age 34+ was the 8-time Gold Glover, Torii Hunter.  Pagan is nowhere close to the center fielder that Hunter was at 31-years old, so it is hard to imagine him being even a league-average CF for much more than the next 2 seasons.  In fact, Pagan had a -6 Runs Saved last season, suggesting that he was slightly below average in CF, a figure that will certainly only get worse as he ages. 

Pagan does offer a nice fit at the top of the Giants lineup as a spark plug, and is a perfect fit for AT&T park offensively being a gap hitter with plus speed.  As long as he sticks in CF, he will be a definite asset to the club.  However, history shows that speed guys don’t age very well into their 30’s, so Pagan could end up as a left fielder or platoon guy for the second half of the deal, greatly diminishing his offensive value to the club. 

Perhaps the Giants had to offer him 4 years to retain him, and maybe they aren’t as hot on CF prospect, Gary Brown, as they were just a year ago, but I think part of this overly long contract still is due to the Giants dropping the ball.  They really should have made Pagan the 1 year, $13.3-million dollar qualifying offer when they had the chance.  He was known to be seeking his final long-term deal of his career, in the range of 4 to 5 years, so there is no way he would have taken the 1-year offer from the Giants coming off such a huge year.  By presenting the qualifying offer, the Giants would have then received the signing team’s first unprotected pick, and a sandwich round pick, should Pagan had signed a deal elsewhere.  This alone would have scared off a couple of his suitors, or at least made them less aggressive, as teams have recently become more inclined to keep their draft picks and build within.  I think by doing this, they could have probably gotten him on a 3-year deal around the same money per year.

MARCO SCUTARO

The Marco Scutaro signing for 3 years/$20-million has some risk as well, as Scutaro will be turning 40 at the end of the third and final year of the deal.  I would have liked them to get him at 2 years with perhaps a club option for the 3rd, but after the Cardinals and Yankees got in the bidding, they needed to up the offer to include the 3rd year guaranteed.  Coming off a mind-boggling 2-month stint, where Scutaro hit .362/.385/.473 for the Giants, he has proven that he has a lot left in the tank, and his contact rate (best in the majors last year) is something that the Giants love.  I could see Scutaro hitting in the .280-.300 range the next year or two, and at least being a serviceable utility guy in the final year of his deal.   This signing was also seen as a necessity as the Giants have little second base depth in the minors.  Charlie Culberson was traded last year (for Scutaro), Nick Noonan does not look like starting material, Brock Bond has hands made of iron, and Joe Panik looks to be more of a utility type guy. 

Bottom line is, while the Giants probably went a year too long on both guys, if they win one more World Series during the next 3-4 years, these deals will be worth every penny and more. 

Let me know your thoughts on these deals in the comments section.

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Blueprint for a 2013 Giants Repeat

After a remarkable 2012 ride to a second World Series title in 3 years, the Giants now will try to do something that their franchise has not done since 1922 – Repeat as World Champions.  Here is what I, Giants Hot Corner, would do with the roster if placed in Brian Sabean’s shoes this offseason:

STARTING PITCHING

Key Loses:  NONE

Key Additions:  NONE

OK, this was an easy call given that all 5 starting pitchers from last season’s World Champion GIants are under contract through at least 2013.  It would be tempting to toy with the idea of signing another good starting pitcher, like perhaps a Dan Haren, to make Lincecum a full-time 140+ inning super-reliever.  I don’t believe that is a realistic option  as even though he thrived in that role in the 2012 playoffs, I don’t see him being as willing to throw out of the pen in his final season before hitting the free agent market. 

BULLPEN

Key Loses:  Guillermo Mota, Clay Hensley, Brian Wilson, Jose Mijares (trade)

This is where it gets a little more tricky.  First, I would non-tender Brian Wilson, since he would be due around $10-million in 2013, which is his final year of arbitration.  I could see a scenario where he would accept a less lucrative deal to come back with the Giants, but coming off of his second Tommy John surgery, I would rather another team take that risk.  Affeldt has been lights out for the Giants since they acquired him prior to the 2009 season,  and while I would have loved to have him back on a 1 to 2 year deal, I do not like the 3-year/$18 million dollar deal the Giants just signed him to.  I personally would not offer any relief pitcher 3+ years, since relievers are often max-effort pitchers who are more prone to injuries.  Also, for every Armando Benitez, there are 10 George Kontos types who can be had via trade for a back-up minor league catcher, or dirt cheap on the free agent market.  The addition of Mijares certainly would have lessened the blow of losing Affeldt as well.  Oh well, he is signed and I am glad he is a Giant for the time being.  Needing to free up a roster spot, I would non-tender Hensley, whose 86-MPH fastball is not bullpen material, and opt not to resign Guillermo “Cough Syrup” Mota.

Key Additions:  Steve Cishek (Trade – MIA), Francisco Liriano (free agent – CHW), Jeremy Affeldt (resign)

Since there is no need for 3 late-inning left-handed relievers, I would use Mijares in a deal to add to the offense (explained below).   I would also take advantage of the recent Marlins firesale and I would send power-hitting 1B prospect, Ricky Orespa (.263/.338/.425 – 2012 in SJ),  and cash for the funky, righty reliever, Steve Cishek.  Cishek basically adds another Sergio Romo to the fold, as he was practically unhittable during the 2012 season (.230 opponent’s BA – .185 against RHB).   

To complete the bullpen, I would sign Francisco Liriano to a 1 year, $6-million dollar deal, with a team option for a second year.  Liriano would be used to fill Mota’s long relief/mop-up role, but unlike Mota, Liriano could also be a safety net should one of the Giants’ starting pitcher get injured, and he has major swing-and-miss stuff (9.59 K/9IP in 2012).  This signing would add much-needed depth at starting pitcher since the Giants do not have any viable options ready in their high minors to fill-in next year.  The Giants do have hard-throwing, Heath Hembre, and Brett Bochy waiting in the wings, but they would have the luxury of not rushing them, and instead, having them work on their command within the strike zone and their secondary pitches.

POSITION PLAYERS:

Key Loses:  Ryan Theriot, Freddy Sanchez, Melky Cabrera, Aubrey Huff, Xavier Nady

The losses of Huff and Nady are obvious ones, as both players careers are coming to an end.  While I would love to have Melky Cabrera back at his likely bargain price, it probably is not worth the grief from the fan base or the impact on the clubhouse.  Ryan Theriot played with massive heart and was a solid hitter in 2012, but his roster spot is one that can be upgraded.  I would offer Freddy Sanchez a Spring Training invite to see if his shoulder is capable of playing the field again. 

Key Additions:  Ryan Ludwick (free agent – CIN), Shin-Soo Choo, Daniel Murphy (trade – NYM) Angel Pagan (re-sign), Marco Scutaro (re-sign)

First things first, I would resign Marco Scutaro to a 2-year, $12 million dollar deal (the Freddy Sanchez special) and Angel Pagan for a 3-year, $30 million dollar deal.  The third year on Pagan may be a little dicey, as he will be in his mid-thirties which is usually not too kind on players whose legs are his main asset.  To replace Theriot, I would deal RP Jose Mijares and minor-league SP Chris Heston to the Mets for Infielder Daniel Murphy.  Murphy, a left-handed batter who also plays 3B and 1B, would be a quality backup for the aging Scutaro and a significant upgrade to Theriot’s roster spot.  He is a .292 career hitter, and offers good gap power as shown by his 40 doubles last year. 

Blanco was great in the playoffs for the Giants, but in reality he is a good fourth outfielder.  To bolster the position, and lineup, I would send prospects Joe Panik (SS), Joan Gregorio (SP), and a third solid prospect, to the cost-cutting Indians for RF Shin-Soo Choo.  Choo would add another major threat to the lineup, as his .289/.381/.465 career slashline shows.   He also has some wheels (21 SBs in 2012) and a cannon for an arm.  This move would allow Pence to be moved to LF where his poor routes would be less costly than in the spacious RF at AT&T Park. 

To solve the Giants major need of having a power hitter on the bench, I would sign Ryan Ludwick to a 1 year, $8-million dollar deal.  Though I am not the biggest Ludwick fan due to his sub-par defense and poor batter’s eye, he can provide major game-changing power off the bench, or as a spot starter in LF or 1B against certain left-handed pitchers. 

2013 ROSTER

Starting Pitchers:

Matt Cain RH

Madison Bumgarner LH

Ryan Vogelsong RH

Tim Lincecum RH

Barry Zito LH

Bullpen:

Francisco Liriano LH

George Kontos RH

Jeremy Affeldt LH

Javy Lopez LH

Santiago Casilla RH

Steve Cishek RH

Sergio Romo RH

Staring Lineup:

1) Angel Pagan CF (S)

2) Marco Scutaro 2B (R)

3) Buster Posey C (R)

4) Pablo Sandoval 3B (S)

5) Shin-Soo Choo RF (L)

6) Hunter Pence LF (R)

7) Brandon Belt 1B (L)

8) Brandon Crawford SS (L)

Bench:

Gregor Blanco LF/CF/RF (L)

Ryan Ludwick LF/RF/1B (R)

Daniel Murphy 2B/3B/1B (L)

Juaquin Arias SS/3B/2B (R)

Hector Sanchez C (S)

There you have it!  Please share this with your fellow Giants fan friends and feel free to leave comments/replies with your thoughts. 

2012 Opening Day Roster Predictions

Here are Giants Hot Corner’s San Francisco Giants Opening Day 25-man Roster predictions:

PITCHERS

SP Tim Lincecum

SP Matt Cain

SP Madison Bumgarner

SP Barry Zito

RP Clay Hensley

RP Guillermo Mota

RP Jeremy Affeldt

RP Javier Lopez

RP Santiago Casilla

RP Sergio Romo

RP Brian Wilson

Since it doesn’t appear that Vogelsong will be ready to make his first scheduled start, and the Giants really don’t need a 5th starter until April 15th due to scheduled days off, I would guess Vogelsong will start the year on the DL and build arm strength in Fresno.  I see the Giants breaking camp with only 11 pitchers (4 SP, 7 RP) since their starters have the capability to eat a lot of innings and take pressure off the pen.

POSITION PLAYERS

C Buster Posey

C Hector Sanchez

C Chris Stewart

1B Aubrey Huff

1B Brandon Belt

2B Emmanuel Burriss

SS Brandon Crawford

SS Mike Fontenot

3B Pablo Sandoval

CF Angel Pagan

OF Melky Cabrera

RF Nate Shierholtz

OF Gregor Blanco

UTIL Brett Pill

I still think that Belt could end up in AAA so he could get consistent at bats, but I just don’t see a better option right now to take his roster space with Freddy Sanchez out.  Obviously Belt is miles ahead of both Huff and Pill, but the Giants brass acts as though he isn’t ready.  I fear that if Belt doesn’t show something early, Sanchez could be replacing him on the roster once healthy.  I also think the Giants may go with 3 catchers to start the year, as they are still not 100% confident that Posey could catch everyday.  Hector Sanchez forced his way into a roster spot with his impressive spring with the bat, and improved skills behind the plate.  Stewart could be held off the roster if the Giants feel Posey is close to 100% healthy, and that spot could go to a long RP like Petit or Burres.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section