Since I haven’t blogged in over a month, there are a ton of things to discuss. However, I am going to be selfish and start with the subject nearest and dearest to my heart – the fate of Eli Whiteside. I have been on an emotional roller coaster the last couple of weeks trying to figure out where my main boy was going to be. First, on December 12th, I heard that the Giants decided not to tender an offer to Eli. Freak out! But again, my brother Nick (the voice of reason) told me that this didn’t necessarily mean he wouldn’t be on the team, just that they wouldn’t go to arbitration with him (potentially offering him less in the future than he would get going to arbitration). So I began to cross my fingers and make the chant “Please, oh please, keep Eli” my morning mantra. Next, on December 16th, it was reported that Eli had been signed by the Giants to a MINOR LEAGUE contract. WHAT??? That’s a pretty big slap in the face to a 32-year-old. But I figured at least he was still a Giant, and I would just have to make a lot of visits to Fresno to see my boy this season. I could handle that (deep breaths). Then, the next day, it was announced that Eli had been signed by the Giants to a one-year MAJOR LEAGUE contract for $600,000!!!! Who is responsible for messing with my emotions like this?? Well, at least he’ll be back next year, and I’m so glad my prediction that he wouldn’t return did not come true. Welcome back, Eli!! I look forward to seeing that white, curly hair for one more season. I also heard Mike Krukow comment the other day on KNBR that Eli had elbow surgery in the off-season (the elbow bothered him most of the 2011 season and affected his throwing – this was news to me). Later it was reported that he didn’t have surgery, but had an injection of enriched blood to speed healing (this sounds like Star Trek stuff to me – here’s the source). So I am making a revised prediction that the new-and-improved Eli will have his best season ever in 2012. Yes, I said it. Kruk also mentioned that Eli is such a great guy that he predicts he will eventually be a coach for the team. Love that!
In other news, let’s get to the one major trade that Brian Sabean made since Thanksgiving. The Giants traded Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez to the Mets for center fielder Angel Pagan. Not really surprised about Andres being traded, but I will surely miss that guy. He is always smiling! I also found out that he is participating in a documentary on ADHD, something that he himself has struggled with. Can we love this guy any more?? I wish him all the best in New York – take good care of him out there, please! I was very surprised that they traded Ramirez, especially after all the ranting about keeping the pitching staff intact. He was a relieving force last year. He will surely be missed, and I was surprised that the media spent more time talking about the loss of Andres vs. the loss of Ramon. Regarding Angel, it sounds like he will be an excellent addition to the team, bringing a much-needed bat. The concern is that he doesn’t like to bat in the leadoff position, but he is going to have to get used to that idea due to his base stealing abilities. Hopefully he’ll feel comfortable with my boys in his new environment, and this won’t be an issue. We’ll have to see. What do you all think about the trade?
Several Giants have received contracts since my last blog. Three guys were signed to one-year contracts: Mike Fontenot ($1.05 million), Guillermo Mota ($1 million), and Emmanuel Burriss (could not find salary amount). I’m happy about Fontenot, as Mike can play several positions, and he hit pretty well last year. He definitely came through in the clutch several times. Mota is an awesome reliever, and I’m glad they’ve secured him as well. I am hoping that Burriss gets more playing time next season. He’s got to get that batting average up, but his speed and defense can really come in handy. I’m also pulling for him as his story from The Franchise was really inspiring, and he just seems like a great kid. As far as staff, Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean have both had their contracts extended through 2013. This is definitely a plus for the team, as both have made great contributions over the past few years.
The Giants decided not to tender an offer to Jeff Keppinger. His fate has still not been decided. I’m hoping they can get him back, but there really isn’t a place for him since Freddy will be back. He’ll probably end up going to a team that really needs him so he can get more playing time. The Cody Ross situation is also still up in the air. Apparently, he was asking for a 3-year contract and the Giants wouldn’t give him one, but neither would anyone else. So there is still some hope that he might be back. I like the guy, but I’m not sure I would spend the money that way. His hitting was horrible last year (and he needs to stop throwing his bat into the crowd!).
Two of the 2011 Giants definitely won’t be back next year. Carlos Beltran accepted a 2-year, $26 million contract from the Cardinals. We all knew this was coming – there was no way the Giants were going to offer him that much. I really enjoyed watching him and will be sorry to see him go, especially since we lost Zach Wheeler (a fabulous pitching prospect) in the trade for him. Then yesterday, Mark DeRosa accepted a 1-year contract with the Nationals (I couldn’t find how much they offered him). This one made me sad. I love that guy! And he was doing so well at the end of the season after coming back from his injury. Plus, he is a cutie pie! Even though he won’t be a Giant, I will definitely be rooting for him.
Another two past Giants were signed with other teams. Aaron Rowand was signed by the Marlins and the Brewers signed Travis Ishikawa. It will be interesting to see those guys in different uniforms, and it will be interesting to play against Rowand considering the awkward way he was dismissed from the team (even though we are paying his enormous salary next year).
There have been lots of rumors being tossed around about guys that the Giants could still add to the team. The names I’ve heard mentioned are shortstop Alex Gonzalez (a better hitter than Crawford, but not as good defensively according to Mike Krukow), Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima (learned that to even discuss an acquisition of a Japanese player, you have to give his team millions of dollars!), and outfielder Ryan Ludwick. Anyone heard of any others? There were also a lot of rumors going around that Jeremy Affeldt would be traded, but thankfully that one hasn’t come true. It must be pretty darn stressful to hear things like that in the off-season and realize you have no control over your destiny.
There’s also been a lot of talk about who the backup catcher will be. According to Bochy, Buster will be playing first base a lot so he can gradually get back into catching, so they need a strong backup. Hector Sanchez’s name has been thrown out there a lot. He has been batting well in the Winter League in Venezuela and improving his catching. I’m worried for Eli, but I’m also excited to see this kid play more often, especially since we need his bat. You can read Jamie Sire’s summary of Bochy’s comments on this and other topics during the Winter Meetings here.
As during the regular season, the off-season still presents itself with learning opportunities for me. I was listening to KNBR (as I do most mornings on my way into work), and Mike Krukow was discussing where he thought Jose Reyes might end up. There had been a lot of speculation that Sabean might try to make a deal to get Reyes. Krukow felt that he probably wouldn’t want to come to San Francisco because he has hamstring problems, and thus he would play better in a warmer climate. I had never realized that guys take these kinds of things into consideration when choosing which team to join. And I didn’t know that bad hamstrings don’t like our cold San Francisco weather! Krukow’s prediction ended up being correct, as Reyes accepted a 6-year, $106 million deal with the Marlins. Miami is definitely a much warmer climate than S.F.!! Enjoy, hamstrings!
I’ll end with an interesting trend that has been occurring amongst the Giants players. They’ve all caught the marriage bug! Four guys on the team were married in the last two months: Dan Runzler (on 11/19), Brandon Crawford (on 11/26 in Hawaii – sorry, Ginny!!), Barry Zito (on 12/3 – to a former Ms. Missouri and pig farmer), and Nate Shierholtz (also on 12/3). Best wishes to all of you – I’m sure you’ve broken a lot of hearts by tying the knot! Thanks to Amy Gutierrez of Comcast SportsNet for the updates on these newlyweds.
Guess what??? Spring training is only about two months away! Can’t wait to actually start hearing baseball on the radio again instead of all this football! And I can’t wait to wear the Giants Pashmina my sister got me for Christmas to a game (for all you boys out there, this is what a Pashmina is). She got one, too, so we can be twinsies! Let me know if you have any Giants news that I missed. I’ll keep listening for more. Thanks to Comcast SportsNet’s and KNBR’s Facebook pages for lots of helpful updates. Until next time, GO GIANTS!!