Giants Hot Stove: In-house free agents

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Giants Hot Stove: In-house free agents

Now that the Hot Stove League has officially begun, you're going to start hearing quite a bit about various teams picking up or declining the 2012 options of their eligible players, keeping them in the fold or cutting them loose for free agency.You won't hear any such news regarding the Giants, however. The only player on whom they held an option was left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and they acted quickly to take care of that bit of business Sunday by picking up Affeldt's 5 million tab for next season.NEWS: Giants pick up Affeldt's 5 million option
That, along with the signing of fellow southpaw bullpenner Javier Lopez, reduces the number of potential Giants free agents to six, and with 13 players eligible for arbitration, the no-longer-defending world champs still have a whopping 19 decisions to make, and fairly soon.NEWS: Giants re-sign Javier Lopez
The top priorities for now, though, will be their own free agents. Each team has an exclusive window in which to negotiate with their guys who are eligible to hit the open market this winter, and that window closes Thursday.
Topping the free-agent list for the Giants, of course, is Carlos Beltran, and it'll be a shock -- to say the least -- if a deal is struck with the multi-talented outfielder before Friday.In fact, based on what San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean has been hinting since the end of the regular season, it'd be a bit of a shock if Beltran returns at any time.Just as it'll be a shock if the team lands any of the big-name free agents expected to be available, a class headlined by Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder and Jimmy Rollins. Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham, among others, are up there, too, followed by lesser lights -- but still quality players -- such as Coco Crisp.Might Sabean be sandbagging? Sure, but that's never really been his style. He's an awfully straight shooter and always has been.Behind Beltran among potential Giants free agents are outfielders Cody Ross and Pat Burrell, infielders Mark DeRosa and Orlando Cabrera, and righty reliever Guillermo Mota.Who might be returning? It's safe to rule out Cabrera and Burrell, but Ross, DeRosa and Mota all make sense on some level depending on the price tag.It seems highly unlikely that the Giants would be wiling to pay Ross the 6.3 million he made in 2011, or drop anywhere close to the 6-million that DeRosa average over the past two season. But Ross has said he wants to come back, and there's at least a modicum of mutual interest.DeRosa? He's been golfing on a regular basis, so his wrist is obviously sound, but it might take him being willing to sign an incentive-heavy deal that starts with something like a 1 million base salary.As for Mota, hey, the guy made the team and quietly played a key role in the bullpen in each of the past two seasons after getting invited to spring training on a minor-league deal. He made a tad less than 1 million last season, and it seems like he's earned a similar reward for his underrated contributions while filling multiple roles.It's Tuesday and the clock is ticking, folks. The stove is heating up. This is when Sabean starts earning his money -- by spending the money of others.How would you spend it -- or not -- while that exclusive window remains open?

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

FUN FACTOR:
The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

FANCY FIELDING:
Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

UP NEXT:
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

The Giants look to win two straight against the Braves and Bruce Bochy has made a few changes to the lineup Sunday.

Atlanta Braves (21-26)

1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
8. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
9. R.A. Dickey (R) P

San Francisco Giants (21-30)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P