Like the first golden leaf hitting the ground to announce the return of autumn, the Giants offseason has officially started with the casual mention they aren't going to be pursuing any premium free agents. This is fine offseason to have that philosophy, though, as there aren't any Vlad Guerreros, Alex Rodriguezes, or, ahem, Carlos Beltrans to tie a franchise to for the better part of a decade. The fellows who will walk away from the free agent derby with sacks of cash aren't necessarily people who the Giants should be throwing sacks of cash at.
Brian Sabean told the Chronicle here he was more concerned with starting pitching than finding a position player. I'm not in complete agreement, but both areas obviously need an upgrade. The question with the pitching, though, is who could help this team? Sorting the free-agent pitchers into categories:
Too expensive, too much risk going along with that expense
Too expensive, but it wouldn't break hearts in the short-term if the Giants overpaid them
Maybe, just maybe, both desirable and relatively affordable
Old and probably busted, but not automatically bad ideas
Old, busted, and automatically bad ideas
Somewhere between slightly offensive and terrible
I wouldn't be happy about it, but I suppose I could live with it
Has been hogtied in the back of a police car before, not that I'm judging him
Has been hogtied and then put in the back of a police car, though it wasn't the police that hogtied him, rather it was something he paid good money for, and, yes, I'm judging him
That's not an inspiring list. There are few choices for the Giants in the free-agent market:
- Overpay a pitcher of dubious quality.
- Get someone who is a good bet to be worse than Brett Tomko.
- Take a chance on a toothless, grizzled former talent to have a respectable year.
- Sign some broken down pitcher who hasn't pitched in a year or two, like Miguel Asencio, and hope he eats the leftover spinach from Chris Carpenter's can. Wait, that didn't come out right....
Sabean described this year's class of free-agent starter as not being as "sexy or as deep" as the class of last year. Well, last year wasn't exactly Albert Camus in a mini-skirt either. Jaret Wright, Kris Benson, Carl Pavano, and Russ Ortiz all left the organizations that acquired them feeling as if a problem were solved, and only Benson even came close to acceptable. I love Burnett the theory, but hate, hate, hate Burnett the contract. Millwood and Morris are both fine pitchers who will parlay good results and sketchy injury histories into great money.
Here's your post-Halloween horror show moment: The same Chronicle article, as well as Martin's diary here, mentions Sabean has targeted roughly 20 pitchers from the above list as possibilites. I can get to, oh, about nine before I start sucking my thumb. The reprieve, however, is that there are other ways to skin this cat. There are pitchers coming up for arbitration, teams that might have a surplus, and other trade ideas. At least, there better be, because committing to this list as the answer to the Giants problems is a frightening solution.
Most of the free agent information, and a rumor or two, can be found at MLB4U.com.