The most important in the minds of most fans is if they Giants will come to terms with Matt Cain on a contract extension. If not, Cain will become a free agent at the end of the season. Cain and the Giants have maintained all along that if a deal is not done by Opening Day, the issue will be tabled for the season.
With the Dodgers newly flush with money, the Yankees and the Red Sox all likely looking for pitching next off-season, it's entirely possible that Cain could get $120 to $150 million over five or six years on the open market. It's not really clear what the holdup in the Giants negotiations are exactly, other than the Giants are apparently unwilling to sign long-term contracts because they idiotically gave Zito and Rowand long-term contracts. Nevermind the fact that Cain is not Zito or Rowand.
Here are some links to the latest and lamest in this ridiculously slow-going negotiation: http://www.csnbayare...688&feedID=2796
New CEO Larry Baer says the Giants "aren't lowballing" Cain: http://www.csnbayare...440&feedID=2796 (that article also says the Giants and Cain "
have been substantially far apart on determining that [fair market] value")
The Giants have said for years now that maintaining their pitching staff is of the utmost importance, that getting Cain's contract together was a top off-season priority and that the reason they aren't getting into bidding wars for free agent hitters was because of the organizational need to spend those dollars on pitching. Needless to say, losing Cain would be extraordinarily upsetting to Giants fans. While the Zito and Rowand contracts are of course widely criticized and belittled, I get that sense that there are very few Giants fans who would be unhappy with a five- or six-year, $110-$120 million contract for Cain.
In other news, Freddy Sanchez will start the season on the disabled list again, so the opening day starting second baseman could be one of three different players, none of whom are really certain they are even on the team yet. Burriss is likely a lock, while Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot both have contracts that will either need to be guaranteed by tomorrow or they get released, thanked for their time and take away about $250,000 for their troubles. However, with Sanchez on the DL, it seems that for the moment all three will make the team. Eventually, though, I suspect the Giants will have to lose at least one middle infielder with a silent t at the end of their name.
Also up for discussion is the backup catcher position. Buster Posey is back, looks good, is performing well and it's all good things there. There are currently three players, though, who are vying for one or two spots on the roster. Eli Whiteside, Chris Stewart and Hector Sanchez are the candidates.
--Whiteside is the most veteran of the group, but like many backup catchers doesn't hit very well. He was a steady influence in 2010 and as served quite successfully as Jonathan Sanchez's personal catcher, including catching Sanchez's no-hitter and near-perfect game. However, Sanchez is gone now and Whiteside was kind of a disaster last year after being forced into more fulltime status after Posey's injury. While I thought he did a good job with the pitching staff in 2010, he didn't have as much success with them in 2011. He also had an elbow injury that prevented him from making accurate or strong throws, so he gave up a ton of stolen bases. His elbow is apparently better and his throws are stronger, but he still can't hit much and his defense is merely average to above average.
--Chris Stewart became Whiteside's backup after Posey got hurt, then pretty much took the starting job as the season went on and Whiteside continued to be terrible. Stewart is also not a good hitter, but was far superior to Whiteside in defense, particularly with his strong, accurate arm. Pitchers seem to enjoy working with him, Lincecum in particular seemed to prefer Stewart to Whiteside (though I very highly doubt any backup will be catching Lincecum unless Posey is desperately ill). Stewart is really not a good hitter, however, and his value is his defense.
--Hector Sanchez is young (22) with only average defense behind the plate. However, what he has is the ability to hit. And he's been very, very good at doing that in Spring Training. In fact, he's been so good at it that there's been talk that he'll get the sole backup spot on the roster and both Whiteside and Stewart will be out of luck.
I am not sure that makes the most sense, as the hitting ability of a guy you only plan to play once a week or so isn't necessarily the most important attribute. Further, he does need to develop catching skills, and being the everyday guy in Fresno will probably be a better training ground than watching most days in San Francisco. It might be better to see how things develop in San Francisco before moving Sanchez up. It would be great to have a good-hitting young catcher ready to come up if it turns out Posey needs to move to first base.
Edited by gaelgirl, 29 October 2012 - 05:46 PM.