I'm looking out my window and all I see is a grey sky and swirling graupel. We are making do without the wood stove so far today, which is fine as the temperature outside is just a tick into the 30s. The cold wood stove got me thinking about the very cold Hot Stove this off-season for the World Champs. (Note: the graupel swarm has passed, now it is swirling flakes.) You knew that some of the 2010 club would not return in 2011, and that Juan Uribe, after two strong seasons in San Francisco, would likely get other offers. The fact that the charismatic hacker would be donning Dodger Blue had never entered my mind, of course, but all I can say at this point is "goodbye, and thanks for the memories." Sabes & Co. quickly plugged the hole with San Diego's Miguel Tejada, keeping the NL West's "shortstop musical chairs" alive and well. Tejada, barring injury, can certainly deliver similar value to the club. With a bounce back from Pablo Sandoval, the Giants ought to be OK on the left side of the infield. Panda may never reach his 2009 peak, but I have a feeling 2010 was his nadir, and something in between the two could be a huge asset (is an .800 OPS wishful thinking?). Hell, the kid turns 24 next August! With Aubrey Huff ensconced at first, Freddy Sanchez at second, Andres Torres in center, Cody Ross in right, and Buster Posey catching, the only question mark is left field. Assuming a healthy Mark DeRosa gets the nod, that could be an outstanding starting eight. After all, the Giants proved you could win a World Series with an average offense, and a full year of those guys would certainly be at least that, and even capable of cracking the top quartile. It ain't Philly or Cincy or Colorado, but it doesn't have to be. We all know that any shot at repeating depends on another year of outstanding pitching. I didn't think it possible that the historically awesome 2009 staff (121 ERA+, 3.85 FIP, 3.77 rpg) could do it again in 2010 (121 ERA+, 3.74 FIP, 3.60 rpg), but they did, and even better. I guess there's no reason to believe (other than injuries and cruel acts by the baseball gods) that they can't put together an equally impressive 2011. All my angst and worry over "regression to the mean" was certainly thrown back in my face, and the F.O. showed that they could shore up the weak points as the season progressed.
The Giants have a solid player at every position. They have a Starting Five to die for. They have a great closer and some serious firepower in the 'pen. They have youth. They have cagey vets. They have an entire roster of seasoned warriors who racked up innings upon innings of pennant-chase savvy and post-season seasoning. They have a youngster in the wings (Brandon Belt) who just might pull a Buster Posey next summer. What are they missing? The pessimist in me says that maybe Mike Fontenot is not enough insurance against Aged Miggy or Brittle Freddy going down. That Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand, and Nate Schierholtz won't fill in adequately for the starting outfielders. What do you guys think? Do the Giants need some Hot Stove work? Or can they stand pat and play the hand they've got? Either way, I'm ready for some 2011 talk. Not that I won't still enjoy watching 2010 post-season games, but with the New Year being nigh I'm ready to start counting the days until pitchers and catchers report. (The snow has petered out, and some sun is peeking through the clouds).
p.s. Pablo Sandoval: