As the euphoria of winning the WS settles a bit (I've watched every playoff game at least three times), I am thinking more about next year, especially our outfield. We're overloaded with good OFs and unsettled as to who plays where. My two cents on our OF possibilities:
1) Torres is a lock as everyday CF and leadoff hitter. Any thought that he's a one-year wonder or in danger of falling off from last year's performance is unfounded. He is in excellent shape, has at least three solid years in him, and he scores high on the intangible chart (Willie Mac winner).
2) Cody Ross is our everyday RF. This guy has rapidly become my favorite Giant. It's not just the monster playoff performance, but also his high intangibles. You hear other players say "highly respected by other players, extremely likeable, humble and self-effacing, great teammate". Look at his career stats, and you see he's not a flash in the pan. I think we could lock him up for three years at appx $20 million, good value all things considered.
3) Pat Burrell is in the fold as the "incumbent LF" per Sabean, but it's unlikely that he will play every day in 2011. Another strong intangibles guy, if he plays 120 games we should get 20-25 HRs and 75-80 RBI.
After that, we face some tough but necessary decisions: there will not be enough ABs for Aaron Rowand, Mark DeRosa and Nate Schierholtz, and if Brandon Belt forces his way onto the roster Aubrey Huff becomes primarily an OF. Possible solutions, IMHO:
A) We must find a way to move Rowand to another team. While no team will take on $25 million salary for the next two years, the Giants should approach Rowand with an offer to defer appx half the amount due in 2011-2012, to be paid with appropriate interest in 2013-2018. Rowand has struggled as a Giant, but he is still a quality major-league player and a fresh start in an environment better suited to his talents would be beneficial for everyone. Why would Rowand agree to this? He's a good guy with a great work ethic who has 3-4 years left in his career. If he could move to another team, be productive and add value, and also be financially set for life, it seems like a win-win.
B) Make the best deal possible for Nate Schierholtz. He is best suited to play every day and he won't get that chance with the Giants. He has great tools and could thrive playing for Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cleveland, Seattle and others. I've always been a big Schierholtz fan, but it's not going to happen for him in SF.
C) Mark DeRosa should be primarily our utility IF, with very few OF starts/ABs. He can fill the Uribe role--he came up as a SS, and while he has not played there much of late we need to see if he can give us major-league quality defense. No doubt about his ability to play 2B, 3B or 1B, and he has no problem playing a different position each day. He might become our everyday 3B if Sandoval has not addressed his issues.
D) Belt at 1B means Huff in LF/RF. Belt should be allowed to settle into 1B vs. shifting between 1B/LF. If he is ready he could be our next Will Clark as well as adding another LH bat. We should have no concern with Huff's OF play--he showed us last year that he is up to that challenge.
Darren Ford is not ready, and we cannot count on Neal or anyone else from the minors. If either Rowand or Schierholtz are in the mix, they must be able to play all three OF positions. This is an often overlooked and underrated skill that both Torres and Ross bring to the mix. Schierholtz especially needs to add this to his package. If Belt is not ready, Huff plays 1B everyday and we have room for another backup OF.
Just my thoughts, and I look forward to comments.