YSTL: Giants still looking for left fielder; minor league pitching depth
Programming note: Get up to date on all the latest offseason Giants news on the Hot Stove Show, Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
ORLANDO – Giants general manager Brian Sabean said he feels “no pressure” to acquire an everyday left fielder.
Not from ownership. Not from fans, either.
That’s not to say he isn’t trying.
I'm told that the Giants actively tried to engage the Milwaukee Brewers on outfielder Norichika Aoki, for example, before he was dealt last week. Sabean and Brewers GM Doug Melvin have a long history, too. But despite three attempts to reach out, the Brewers never got back to them.
They received the pitcher they wanted from the Kansas City Royals and made the trade.
The Giants also tried to engage the Yankees on Brett Gardner, who could be expendable following the signing of free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. But the Yankees don’t have to deal Gardner, they’ll have a number of suitors if they do – and it’s become almost an assumption throughout the game that the Giants are not willing to cut too deeply into their pipeline of young pitching.
Sources tell me the Giants aren’t any more optimistic about adding an outfielder on the free-agent route; they have expressed interest in Mike Morse and Corey Hart, but do not expect to hold the top offer by bidding’s end – either in terms of dollars or years.
[BAGGARLY: Giants still have pressing needs]
So they might simply look to platoon Blanco with Juan Perez. And Sabean’s public stance, anyway, is that he’s perfectly fine with that.
“We’re prepared to be patient,” Sabean said from his suite at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort. “I don’t feel any pressure at all. I don’t feel pressure from ownership, I don’t feel a lot of pressure from fans. We’ve done a lot to this point to feel good about. We’ve done our heavy lifting.”
The Giants did spend $90 million on their outfield, after all. That’s easy to forget because they wrapped up Hunter Pence before the free-agent frenzy began. They did the same with Tim Lincecum, which helped to alleviate what would’ve been a “negative leverage” position as they tried to sign one more pitcher.
Sabean said Tim Hudson wouldn’t have agreed to his two-year deal with the Giants if the club were looking to fill three rotation spots instead of two and two outfield spots instead of one.
“Hudson believed it wasn’t broken,” Sabean said. “It just needed to be tweaked.”
Not all Giants fans agree, to be certain. And they might be right. But Sabean said he got a different sense of the fan base’s temperature after delivering a chalk talk with season-ticket holders last week.
“It’s a group that understands what our mission is,” Sabean said. “We’ve got a plan that’s focused and narrow-minded. I think they’re understanding of the fact it’s a new year. What’s good for me to see in that session is the (willingness) to look at 2013 as a flat tire.
“We compared our players to what was in the market and for a lot of reasons we felt they were capable of playing better than they did last season. This group still has a lot to offer. … And I feel very fortunate the ownership was so proactive. I don’t remember many times seeing a team spend the way we did before we got into the market.”
Industry sources said many teams are engaging in broader trade talks than usual on the first day of these meetings, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the number of free agents that have come off the board. There are fewer choices, and the market is well established for the ones that remain.
And no, Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz aren’t options the Giants are considering, given it would cost the 14th overall pick and another long-term commitment.
But executives from two other NL rivals still expect the Giants to make a move. At least here in Orlando, if someone doesn’t return a call, you can always knock on their door.