Tag: Justin Christian

Alfonso Soriano

Alfonso Soriano isn’t interested in replacing Melky Cabrera


Alfonso Soriano made it known before the trade deadline that he wasn’t interested in a trade to the Giants. Asked again today about the possibility of a move to San Francisco in light of Melky Cabrera’s regular season-ending suspension, Soriano replied “I don’t think so,” CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.

Soriano has cleared waivers, just as everyone knew he would. However, with full no-trade protection, he still controls his destiny in Chicago. The Cubs would be agreeable to paying a hefty portion of the approx. $42 million he’s due through 2014 in order to send him elsewhere, but finding a team that both wants him and that Soriano would be willing to go to has proven to difficult so far.

The Giants could certainly use him, given that they’re currently staring down a future with Gregor Blanco and maybe some Xavier Nady, Justin Christian or Marco Scutaro in left field. Soriano has hit .264/.319/.490 with 21 homers and 71 RBI for the Cubs this year. His totals would rank first on the Giants in homers and second behind Buster Posey in RBI.

Alas, it’s probably not meant to be.

Giants probably not a playoff team without Melky Cabrera

Melky Cabrera

With Melky Cabrera done for at least the rest of the regular season after testing positive for enhanced testosterone levels, the Giants may well fall short of the playoffs this year. Though perhaps that’s for the best, given that the cheater is a big reason they’re tied for the NL West lead at the moment.

Cabrera has hit .346/.390/.516 with 11 homers, 60 RBI and 13 steals this season. That .906 OPS was good for eighth place in the National League. It was also 97 points higher than his 2011 mark with the Royals and 177 points higher than his career mark of .729 entering the season.

Baseball-reference WAR places Cabrera as the NL’s fourth-best position player this season. Fangraphs WAR rates him the 11th best.

Needless to say, the team’s fallbacks don’t compare. Nate Schierholtz will be missed, since he was included in the Hunter Pence trade. Gregor Blanco, whose role was reduced when Pence arrived, figures to see a lot more action now. He’s hitting just .232/.329/.343 for the season, and he’s at .137/.297/.196 in 51 at-bats since the All-Star break. Justin Christian figures to return to the majors to replace Cabrera on the roster.

Perhaps the Giants will go get Alfonso Soriano from a Cubs team perfectly willing to cover a big portion of his salary. He’d replace Melky’s power, though not his on-base ability. Aubrey Huff, on the DL with a strained knee, could factor into the mix in left next month, but it’s nothing the Giants can count on.

The Giants simply can’t afford any drop-off and still expect to reach the playoffs. They’re tied with the Dodgers for the NL West lead, but the Dodgers are playing better baseball at the moment. Their 64-53 record is tied for fifth-best in the NL. As things stand now, both the Braves and Pirates have better records in the wild card spots, with the Cardinals just a half-game behind.

Cabrera will be eligible to play beginning with the Giants’ fifth game of the postseason if the team does advance, but that would turn into a farce if it happens. It’d be another black mark for baseball if Cabrera could get a PED suspension and still be a postseason hero in the same year.

Running down the rosters: San Francisco Giants

Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey

Coming off a disappointing 86-76 finish in 2011, the Giants’ big moves this winter were a pair of underwhelming trades: Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera and Andres Torres plus Ramon Ramirez for Angel Pagan. To say the least, they didn’t make the kind of splash their fans were hoping for (but have come not to expect).

Tim Lincecum – R
Matt Cain – R
Madison Bumgarner – L
Ryan Vogelsong – R
Barry Zito – L

Brian Wilson – R
Sergio Romo – R
Santiago Casilla – R
Jeremy Affeldt – L
Javier Lopez – L
Guillermo Mota – R
Clay Hensley – R

SP next in line:  Eric Surkamp (L), Dan Runzler (L), Brian Burres (L), Ramon Ortiz (R)
RP next in line: Runzler, Danny Otero (R), Steve Edlefsen (R), Jean Machi (R)

The staff remains one of the game’s very best, with three of the NL’s top 10 starting pitchers leading the way. I doubt Vogelsong will come close to matching his All-Star 2011 season, but as a fourth starter, he shouldn’t be a liability.

The bullpen is also exceptional, though Wilson is a bit of a question mark after last year’s elbow problems. Fortunately, the Giants can cover any absence from Wilson. Romo, Casilla, Affeldt and Lopez are probably the game’s best setup crew, and Hensley should do well in replacing Ramirez’s innings.

Rotation depth is a big issue here. Surkamp didn’t appear ready in his six starts last season, and while I like Runzler as a reliever, I’m not sure he has any future in the rotation. Any injury to one of the big three starters — or even to one of the lesser lights — is going to take a heavy toll.

CF Angel Pagan – S
2B Freddy Sanchez – R
3B Pablo Sandoval – R
C Buster Posey – R
LF Melky Cabrera – S
1B Aubrey Huff – L
RF Nate Schierholtz – L
SS Brandon Crawford – L

C Eli Whiteside – R
1B-OF Brandon Belt – L
INF Mike Fontenot – L
INF Ryan Theriot – R
OF Justin Christian – R

Next in line: C Hector Sanchez (S), C Chris Stewart (R), 1B Brett Pill (R), INF Emmanuel Burriss (S), 3B Conor Gillaspie (L), INF Joaquin Arias (R), OF Gregor Blanco (L), OF Gary Brown (R), OF Roger Kieschnick (L), OF Tyler Graham (R)

The Giants needed a star — Jose Reyes, in particular, would have been an outstanding fit — but they settled for a pair of switch-hitting outfielders. For what it’s worth, Cabrera did play like a minor star last year, and he’s just 27 years old. If he can do it again, then the middle of the order has the potential to be very good.

I don’t see either Cabrera or Pagan lighting it up, though, and the Giants might be better off sacrificing some outfield defense in order to get Belt in the lineup regularly. That could mean playing the hot hand between Pagan and Schierholtz.

The bench appears set except for the last spot, which could go to Christian, Pill, Burriss or Blanco. I’m going with Christian, even though he was bumped from the 40-man roster last week. Pill would only make sense if the Giants decided to commit to Huff in the outfield and turn first base over to Belt.

As for the lineup itself, the Giants will likely experiment this spring so that they don’t end up with the three lefties in a row at the bottom of the order (making it a bigger problem is that their two best pinch-hitting options are also left-handers). I think they’d prefer having Melky bat fifth, but using him at the top of the order and sticking either Pagan or Sanchez in the seventh spot would solve the issue.

The Giants finished second in the NL in ERA last year, but dead last in runs scored. A healthy Posey can help there, but there is just so much ground to make up. The Phillies had the worst offense among last year’s NL playoff teams, scoring 713 runs. The Giants were all of the way down at 570. They’ll probably have to up that total to at least 630-640 to have a shot.