Let's face it, Brian Sabean sucks at signing middle market veterans for too much money and too many years. Lets try and rescue him and preserve this awesome rainy day fund too.
First up, the stated need for a CF. Covelli Crisp. As a one year stopgap for Gary Brown to sink or swim this sounds uncomfortable but for the 2/15-2/20 Sabean will spend zeroing in on his target it is insane. As many point out, Andres Torres in a bad year is within .002 of Crisp's OBP. But let's get skip Torres for a minute, hoping he is in the Gints plans as a 4th OF at least. Assuming they have to have an alternative plan in CF, look east.
The Mets. Angel Pagan is going to cost 5MM in arbitration. They don't want to pay Pagan, but they don't want to lose that value. Enter the Giants, and an extra right handed reliever who is in the same boat, for about half the money: Ramon Ramirez. A quick trade here gives the Mets a solid arm for their pen at a pretty nice price instead of making the hard call on Pagan, who is on the cusp of getting dfa'd. Pagan will attract interest from a bunch of clubs, its worth giving up something to get him with the arb control.
So now you have a leadoff batter, not sexy like Jose Reyes, but he has a career OBP of .331 a whole point above Crisp's of 330, he costs less in years and dollars and you just got value instead of signing or dfa'ing Ramirez. Pagan is a little less than 2 years younger than Crisp but I'll take that, because his nickname is Crazy Horse. Those quads are solid. Well, at least a lot more games than Crisp in the last 3 years.
Now a quick assumption: Brain Trust is serious that Nate Schierholtz is the RF, at least until he is injured. And Brandon Belt is either a) going to AAA to learn respect for curveballs b) going to 1B once Huff has his 2 months or c) back to RF if Schierholtz is injured or not quite what we hoped.
LF: 3 plans: 1. Hey Don Carlos, we got your leadoff hitter right here, you know him. Call his bluff at 2/30MM and we are on. I don't think even Sabean will go 3 years on those knees. An AL team could blow the Giants out of the water at any time. So you are asking him to play left and take 2 years, this part will be torn apart. And yes, this upsets the awesome rainy day fund but not by much more than the next 2 middle market plans:
Plan 2. Josh Willingham. Terrible defense. He will cost a draft pick. He hit bombs in Oakland, we need to have a 30 HR threat in LF. He has serious warts, but he is consistent and will solidify the lineup. 2/16 minimum, with Sabean rolling maybe even 2/20. This blows the budget out. Most likely it will turn out bad, but it is the best cheap dingerz play. As an aside, I hate giving Billy Beane a draft pick, and he didn't do anything special in Oakland.
LF Plan 3. Michael Cuddyer. He will cost even more than Willingham, at least 3 years 8MM per. 3/24 to 3/33, this is the guy that fits with Sabean fill in the roster strategy (Alfonso comes to mind). He will hit 20 bombs providing he is still healthy and his road splits aren't as bad as they look (255/327/742 away versus 289/360/848 at home), and provide position flexability, mainly due to the ability to play 2nd (badly) for Freddy Sanchez, and all the corners in the IF/OF. He will also cost the draft pick. This allows them to hedge RF/LF and even 1B. Most likely move.
LF Plan 4: Belt. Plan 5: Huff with Pill at first. Both Willingham and Cuddyer with creative budgeting can keep the payroll near 125MM and be the end of rosterbation. Please note: the way to fight the middle market is to follow plans 1, 4 or 5.
Brings it to SS. Just to piss off GiantPain, and bring his insights into the discussion, the #1 plan is the cheapest: Brandon Crawford. Bat him 8th, let him take his knocks. He might even hit 230.
2nd plan: Reality: Scutaro is getting his option picked up by the Red Sox. Furcal is resigned by the Cards, and if he isn't he's going to get years and dollars beyond the cheap. Rollins for 3 years will be matched by the Phils. 4/48? You have to walk away. Reyes is getting almost Carl Crawford money and years, and is almost the exact player, at a more premium position. Everybody's great backup hero Jamey Dodgerstink Carroll is just that, dodgerstink career backup. And 37 years old.
3rd plan: 3MM or less for somebody to caddy Crawford or better play Fontenot in a platoon: Alex Gonzalez, he of the sub 300 obp and salty glances, Jack Wilson to make Freddy Sanchez happy for his BFF, Clint Barmes hoping he can hit a little outside a hitters park (for more money). Maybe Nick Punto? Face it, shortstop is a horrible offensive position in the majors, just straight horrible. Getting a scrub RH to platoon with Fontenot and letting Crawford sink or swim in AAA is a good plan. Unless money comes huge for big hammy risks with Rollins (who has Freddy Sanchez intangibles) or Reyes (who is the opposite of the term gamer) the smart thing is to scrub it out for half of what Sabean threw out to Miggy Tejada last year.
So with this plan I embraced ONE middle market guy (who will most likely suck), avoided Coco Crisp (who will be injured and/or mediocre for more money/years), got a new whipping boy at short who will suck (for less money) and gave either Minny or the A's our draft pick. And made the defense worse. All while being realistic about how management will treat Brandon Belt.
Now lets break into that rainy day fund. Can Sabean possibly reach way back and pull off a trade? The problem of course is SS/CF are the most coveted positions in baseball and most teams are looking to buy, not sell.