|Can the Giants afford to keep Lopez?|
(Me) - BLOW IT UP!
- Wait, wait, hold on, the Diamondbacks are in 1st place and the Giants are only 6.5 games back. How could you think of blowing up the team, this could be our year!!
Really? Do you honestly think that the Giants, who are currently 8 games under .500, are going to pull themselves out of the basement and make a legitimate run at this division title? Obviously the wild card is out of the question, but the Giants would have to put together an amazing second half in order to get in the conversation this year.
Lets just say it'll take 84 wins to win the division this year. 84 wins translates to a 84-78 record on the season. For the Giants to get to 84 wins, they would have to have a record of 41-27 record down the stretch. 14 games over .500 which the Giants haven't done all year. On top of that you'd be asking the Diamondbacks to go 33-34 and the Dodgers to go 36-32 so that they would finish at 83-79, neither which is impossible but when paired with the amazing record the Giants would need, it seems like an exercise in futility.
But do the Giants really want to blow up the team so they can rebuild for next year?
First off, the Giants can't afford to "blow up" the team, not while Posey, Cain and Bumgarner are still in their primes. If the Giants' World Series window is still open it closes when these 3 are no longer in the prime of their careers. Some would argue that it might even be too late when you look at how Cain has struggled this year, but I've seen enough good starts from him to dispel that notion.
Meanwhile, the Giants have most of the team under control through 2014 with a few exceptions:
Lincecum, Pence, Zito and Javier Lopez are all in the final years of their contracts. Technically Ryan Vogelsong is also in the final year, but his contract has a club option for 2014 at $6.5 million and I'm pretty sure the Giants will end up picking it up.
Of the four impending free agents I think the one most likely to go regardless of how the next two weeks go is Javier Lopez. Lopez has been an excellent addition to the Giants and helped them win two World Series' being the main lefty specialist and getting the most dangerous hitters out in high pressure situations. For a team like the Giants that are not looking at a legitimate possibility for postseason play, a LOOGY (Lefty one out guy) is a luxury they simply cannot afford.
The Giants right now have Jose Mijares who has been excellent as of late and been pitching to both left and right handed batters. Lopez's weakness is that as deadly as he is against left handed hitting, he is equally as susceptible to right handed batters and they make him pay anytime Bochy decides to leave him in against a righty batter.
Both the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers have shown interest in acquiring Lopez and would be willing to overpay slightly for him in prospects.
The Giants, who have never fully recovered from the Zach Wheeler trade for Carlos Beltran are desperate for some organizational rotation depth so that they might be able to replace Lincecum and Zito soon.
The Red Sox have 2 arms I'm very interested in who both project to be middle of the rotation type starters. Anthony Ranaudo and Henry Owens. Ranaudo is a hard throwing right hander who was just showcased in the Futures game and having a great year with the Red Sox's AA affiliate in Portland with a 8-2 record and a 2.67 ERA not to mention 9.3 K/9. Owens has also really impressed, and although the lefty has struggled with some control issues, he stands 6'6 while still putting on some weight and has a 92-94mph fastball with a devastating changeup.
On the Tigers, the main trading chip is Nick Castellanos a 3rd baseman who has recently been put in the outfield so that the Tigers might be able to put him in the big leagues with Miguel Cabrera currently holding down 3rd base. But since the Giants don't really need a 3rd baseman either, another potential starter would be Jake Thompson who is ranked as one of the Tigers' top 5 prospects. The right hander stands 6'4 and throws a fastball in the low to mid 90's and at 19 is still very much a project.
If the Giants do trade Lincecum I hope they get 2 high level prospects and if they trade Lopez I hope they get at least one.
If I were to venture a guess as to what the Giants might do, or should do, it would be to keep both Lincecum and Pence and see if they'll re-sign with the team once the offseason hits, or in the case of Pence offer him a contract before he hits free agency. Javier Lopez has been a great Giant and Brian Sabean did a fantastic job trading for him in 2010, but the fact remains that the Giants' bullpen does not require a lefty specialist when the possibility of a world series this year is close to none. What the Giants need infinitely more than a lefty specialist is a potential starting pitcher to fill the void that will ultimately be left by Zito, Lincecum and Vogelsong.
Let the trading begin.
Laws of the Day
Since 2010, Javier Lopez has never allowed left handed batters hit higher than .200 against him. This year he's allowing left handed batters a .196 batting average while right handers are hitting .286 against him. Last year righties hit .417 against him and lefties hit .191.