A Look At The Giants’ Roster

Giants' general manager Brian Sabean has taken some flak over the past few years, and some of it has been well deserved. The seven-year, $126MM contract he gave to Barry Zito and the five-year, $60MM contract for Aaron Rowand have been colossal disappointments. He traded Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser to the Twins for A.J. Pierzynski. Edgar Renteria should not be making $9MM per season.

Yet in spite of those moves, a look at the current roster shows some shrewd low-budget options that have landed the Giants in the World Series opposite the Rangers, with one of the more interesting rosters in baseball. Let's take a look:

The Outfield

While Rowand's deal looms over the others, it should be noted that the Giants will be paying their primary outfielders under $2MM this World Series. Cody Ross is due roughly $1.1MM from the Giants after their August waiver claim, and already has an NLCS MVP trophy to his name. Pat Burrell was signed following his release from Tampa Bay, and the Giants are only on the hook for about $300K. He supplied 18 home runs and an .872 OPS. Andres Torres arrived in San Fran with little fanfare, but he's been a key to their success generating a whopping 6.0 WAR at just $426K this season.

The Infield

Remember when experts said that the Aubrey Huff signing was one of the worst of this past offseason? Huff totaled a .290/.385/.506 line and led the club with 26 homers while earning just $3MM. Juan Uribe returned on his second one-year deal with the club for just $3.25MM and tallied 24 home runs of his own. While the two-year, $18.5MM Renteria deal was awful, the Giants managed to fill the void on the cheap and get a .754 OPS from the position during Uribe's 103 games there. Freddy Sanchez missed the begining of the season after signing a two-year, $12MM deal, but totaled 2.7 WAR in 111 games, easily justifying his $6MM salary. Pablo Sandoval, of course, manned the hot corner for next to nothing.


It may have been a bit late, but the Giants made absolutely certain Buster Posey was Major League ready, and did he ever silence any doubters who may have questioned his power after a slow start in Triple-A. Posey's .305/.357/.505 line has Giants fans swooning, and voters fretting over whether he or Jason Heyward deserves NL Rookie of the Year honors.

The Rotation

Sometimes the best trades are ones you never make. Over the past several seasons, we've heard about possible Tim LincecumAlex Rios and Matt CainPrince Fielder trades, as well as several others involving both Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner. Through it all, the Giants stuck with that quartet, who totaled under $15MM in 2010 salary, and were rewarded tremendously.

The Bullpen

There were 722 players drafted before Brian Wilson in 2003. There were zero in 2010 with more saves and only eight relievers who posted a mark higher than Wilson's 11.21 K/9. In 2005, 851 players were drafted ahead of Sergio Romo — he of a 2.18 ERA and 10.2 K/9 in 2010. Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez, acquired at the trade deadline, combined for 46 innings of 0.98 ERA ball. Jeremy Affeldt's two-year, $9.5MM deal may not have been a huge bargain, but it was hardly a disaster. He totaled a 2.80 ERA over 112.1 innings as a Giant, though he struggled more in 2010. They received quality innings out of the likes of Guillermo Mota ($750K) and Chris Ray (acquired from Texas for Bengie Molina).

Wrapping Up

It's possible — assuming a starting nine of Lincecum, Posey, Huff, Sanchez, Uribe, Sandoval, Burrell, Torres, and Ross — that the nine players who take the field on Wednesday night wearing orange and white will be earning a total of just under $23MM. That's less than the trio of Zito, Rowand, and Renteria alone earned this year ($39.5MM). And let's not forget they're paying Mark DeRosa approximately $6MM for just 26 games as a result of his injuries.

That total alone is greater than the entire payroll of teams like the Pirates and Padres, and yet the Giants find themselves four wins away from baseball's highest peak. The 2010 Giants serve as a rare example of a team that managed to overcome some of the game's worst contracts through low-risk, high-reward signings, and seeing talent where others thought there was nothing left or it simply wasn't worth the investment.

41 Responses to A Look At The Giants’ Roster Leave a Reply

  1. To Sabean’s defense the owner wanted to get some big name players, and forced Sabean to sign Zito, and Rowand.

    • Reaper87 5 years ago

      But it does not excuse him for the terms of the contract. He outbid everyone else for Zito by about $20+ mil. As a Giants fan, that was the most frustrating part by far

      • HummBaby 5 years ago

        That is not necessarily true. There has been quite a bit of talk that 1 team actually bid more for his services. Do I think it was a good signing? No. It was a Peter Magowan signing. He wanted a fresh face for the franchise when we were getting so much flack during the Bonds/steroid era. Ridiculous contract that was a huge error, I’ll agree with you on that point.

      • If your boss told you to overbid, despite your objections, would you do as he/she says or do you refuse and risk losing a job that only 30 people holds in the world?

  2. Beatofficer 5 years ago

    I really wish there was a way to get rid of Rowand, highest paid backup CF. I’m hoping next years rotation ends up being Lincecum – Sanchez – Cain – Bumgarner – Zito. Also, I really hope the Giants resign at the very least, Cody Ross, he has earned a contract tendered to him.

    Go Giants, I told my fiance if the Giants win the World Series, I’d probably end up crying in happiness. I’m excited we’re there with all the naysayers saying they’d get swept by the Phillies.

    • fijisiv 5 years ago

      Yes Ross has been invaluable this post-season but the fact remains that he’s a career .265/.323/.466 hitter whose SLG and OPS has gone down 4 years in a row while his K rate has gone up 4 years in a row. He made $4.4m this year and will probably demand more next year on his post-season alone.

  3. I don’t things bode quite so well for the Giants future. You have to give Sabean credit for putting this team on the field, but if he were imminently capable of doing so why hasn’t he been doing it like this all along instead of wasting (and I DO mean wasting) millions of dollars on the free agent market? How hamstrung are the Giants by the $186 million combined going to two worthless players? Frankly, acquiring talent the way he did was the only realistic option considering trading guys like Bumgarner and Posey was out of the question. Frankly, he caught lightning in a bottle. He’s going to be hard pressed to do it again, even with a bit higher payroll to work with. Until Zito and Rowand and officially off the books the Giants aren’t going to be able to operate “normally” for some time. It’s working for them this time but doesn’t appear to be a sustainable way to run a franchise.

    To put it another way, if they’re able to keep their great pitching staff together, how are they going to be able to provide it with an offense capable of helping win games? $186 million dollars sure could benefit the offense so that they don’t have to rely on castoffs like Burrell and Ross. Those two did well, they did their part, but that’s the lightning in the bottle part of it. For every Cody Ross there are 10 Jorge Cantu’s (ok, not literally 10, but you see where I’m going with this). Ross is not Ted Williams, his little goin off streak couldn’t have been predicted (again, lightning in a bottle). Juan Uribe isn’t Jeter in his prime, he couldn’t have been counted on to shine like this (lightning…. you get it by now).

    I’m not saying the Giants are a bad team, or a lucky team. Every team that gets to the World Series certainly has some good luck on their side. The Giants though were forced to work around 3 terrible contracts, deal with the financial realities of them and replace those players with cheap castoffs. Again, it doesn’t bode well for the future because that type of roster building is tough to make work, year in and year out. Enjoy it while you can San Franciscan’s because next year you’ll likely be returning to mediocrity.

    • Backup_Slider 5 years ago

      This is a fairly accurate analysis. The Giants got an unbelievable amount of production from unlikely sources in 2010 (Torres, Burrell, Huff, etc.). They’ll remain competitive in 2011 due to their starting rotation (it’s hard to go wrong with Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Sanchez, and Zito), but they’ll undoubtedly have problems scoring enough runs to be a serious contender. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that a slightly better than .500 record can win the NL West in 2011, but beyond that I can’t foresee the Giants getting back to the NLCS. From a historical perspective, the 2010 Giants remind me of another one-hit-wonder that featured Aaron Roward and Juan Uribe, the 2005 White Sox. Of course, if the Giants sweep the World Series in 4 games then you as a Giant fan should be happy and like it.

    • You’re a Cubs fan therefore your argument isn’t valid. Don’t you give me any of that backtalk

    • I think you’re wrong about a few things. The Giants will have some money next year for a shortstop, and that’s all they really need. Huff will be back on a 1/7 or 2/12 deal, DeRosa will take over for Burrell in left, Ross will be back for $6M or so, and the infield outside of short is locked up. If Sandoval can get it going again (remember, the Giants have played pretty much all of ’10 with Pablo not hitting), that will mitigate a lot of the dropoff from Huff/Torres/DeRosa, if there is any, and there may not be. Ross is certainly an upgrade over Schierholtz, so that helps too.

      Brandon Belt will be ready by 2011 at the latest, and I’d expect Thomas Neal/Conor Gillaspie/Nick Noonan/Brock Bond/Brandon Crawford to produce a couple of regulars by 2012. The gradual phasing out of higher-paid position players will allow the Giants to retain their pitching core, and an increase in payroll is not unlikely. In 2012 Rowand’s deal is up, which gives us a lot more flexibility to either pursue a FA and/or lock up Pablo Sandoval. The Giants have a lot of depth in the low minors which should be ready to graduate in 2-4 years, right as established players need larger contracts to retain them.

      And Uribe is a good SS, but he hasn’t been hitting like Jeter in his prime. He’s optimally a 2-3 WAR player; solid defense, mediocre average/OBP, good power, which is nice for a shorstop. The Giants should offer him arbitration; if he takes it, we have a nice stopgap, if now, we get a comp pick. Burrell has an excellent history and just couldn’t hit as a DH/in the AL East, whatever, and Cody Ross is a good offensive player (24 bombs in ’09).

      The Giants have been lucky, but they’ve also been built well, and I think they’ll be postseason contenders for potentially 5+ years, but at least 3.

    • Does not bode well for the future?
      Lincecum 26
      Cain 26
      Sanchez 27
      Bumgarner 21
      Posey 23
      Panda 24
      This is a team that is built around quality pitching, starting and bullpen. The Yankmes have a $200 mill payroll but only one good arm in the bullpen. That is why Texas was able to score all those runs in the 6-8 innings.
      Zito and Rowand were poor deals, without question. Renteria’s deal was iffy, but he did provide some value. But all three have contributed this season, with Zito having a comeback year and Rowand and Renteria contributing in the playoffs.
      The Giants organization generates enough cash that they can absorb those hits without pause. Let’s talk about the Cubs and their future.
      Huge blown deals on Milton Bradley, Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Fukudome, Rich Harden, on and on. There is hardly anything there for them to build on. There are couple youngsters coming up, Castro, Marmol, Soto, but come on. Who on that club would even start for the Giants? Answer that question honestly and I believe I have made my point.

      • PabloFTW 5 years ago

        The Giants still lack some serious hitting. The guys you named are all of our best players for sure, but you notice that most are our starting pitchers, which aren’t in question, and your expectations for the Panda should be in check some after this season.

        Zito didn’t have much of a bounce back season. He pitched really well for a short time and reverted back to mediocre with his overall numbers being, well, mediocre.

        As of right now the Giants have a lot of money locked up in two players for years that are going to seriously hinder the Giants in picking up any serious offense in free agents. On top of that the Giants don’t have much for impact hitters in the minors. Belt is still a huge question mark as is Neal.

        I’m a huge Giants fan, but the reality is that the Giant’s fans are going to have to cross their fingers and hope that guys like Belt and Neal develop into something and that the Panda makes a decent rebound. Otherwise this will be a team with continued offensive ineptitudes that can’t always be solved by catching lighting in a bottle. Down the road the Giants are likely to run into issues attempting to afford all that awesome pitching. I’m not a cubs fan, and I really don’t care who the cubs are running onto their field; It’s the Giants I’m worried about.

        • Giants do not need serious hitting. That is a misconception that reflects fans’ inclination to dismiss anything that isn’t league leading. Using Pythag, check how much offense a team with Giants RA needs to win 90 games (or check here: link to obsessivegiantscompulsive.blogspot.com). You will find that it does not take a serious offense to win with the Giants defense – pitching and fielding. It only takes a low ranking offense to do that.

          In addition, all our best hitters should return in 2011. Huff loves it here, and if you look at his numbers for the past few seasons, 2010 is not the outlier, 2009 is. Burrell grew up a Giants fan, and has already said that he is willing to come back to the Giants in 2011 as a bench player. Like Huff, Burrell is hitting like he showed how capable he was in Philly, not as DH in AL, many can’t handle DHing. Torres we control for many more seasons. Sanchez is signed for 2011 already.

          Obviously Posey and Sandoval returns. For all complaints about Posey, as the above noted, Posey started off slow offensively in 2010 – his MLE was low 700 OPS, which, compared to what he did in the MLB later, shows that he was struggling to figure things out until May, which was when the Giants brought him up, so the Giants appear to have brought him up right when he was ready and was not late in doing so. Moreover, since the Giants are IN the World Series, even if they were late, they brought him up just in time which is very important because it means the Giants control him for sure for another 6 seasons and not another 5 seasons, getting an extra cost-controlled season out of him, which most people forget and which, given how well he is hitting, is an important point.

          Sandoval most people don’t understand because they did not follow the Giants that closely. He has been through a lot of personal problems this season and did not perform well while going through his troubles. People forget that his OPS was over 1000 in April before falling off the cliff to 600’s in May. That is around when he was served divorce papers and started battling for custody of his child. He struggled until All-Star break, upon which he started hitting well again, until he had to fly down to Venezuela to sign his divorce papers. After he got over that, he started hitting again until he nearly lost his mother when a gaspipe exploded and caused a raging firestorm in their neighborhood; she barely escaped with her life, unlike others. He struggled after that until he got over it the last couple of weeks of the season. Then the playoffs hit and he struggled to get over the immensity of the situation, swinging impatiently, all amped up.

          I think Pablo is ready to hit in World Series. He took a 7 pitch walk the other game, which you can only do when you have gotten over yourself and can hit normally. If he can do that, the Giants have a great chance of winning, because they just need some offense to win, with the way their pitching is going.

          That is 6 players capable of hitting .800 OPS or more. Sandoval, even in a down year, had a .732 OPS. He should hit better in 2011. Sanchez was cold coming back, didn’t rehab, but after a week of struggling, for the rest of the season he hit .299/.351/.405/.756 in the 2-spot. Average NL 2B: .265/.333/.387/.720. Assume some age drop in Huff and Burrell, but both should be still over .800, that is their historical arc in performance. Torres rebuilt his batting mechanics with the intention of copying Pujols: he was near Pujols in extra-base hits all season. Posey should be able to keep it up as well.

          And mostly likely Ross will be tendered to play RF in 2011. In 2008 and 2009, his OPS was near 800, 2010 was down year, but he hit around that for the Giants in 33 games. That could be 7 position players around 800 or above plus whoever they sign for SS (Uribe?). The average starting hitter in NL 2010 hit .258/.326/.403/.730, and average non-catcher, around .750 OPS. In other words, Giants lineup in 2011 look to be above average offensively.

          Back to Pythag, take the average offense in NL, use as RS with Giants RA, see how many games that wins. Looks pretty good and the Giants should only get better.

          They will have Bumgarner, Posey, Burrell, Torres, Ross, Sanchez’s production for a full season. Sandoval should be improved in 2011 as there should not be so many stressful events in his life (divorce, custody battle, near-death of mother). Jonathan Sanchez look ready to take another step forward in production, showing a maturity in 2010 he had never shown before.

          In addition, the farm system has complementary players coming up in near term. Brandon Belt look like he is ready to produce in majors in mid-2011 to 2012 timeframe. He hit among the leaders in every league he played in until AAA. And hitters who can do that usually make the majors and produce. Wheeler and Brown will probably be ready by 2013. Possibilities in 2012-13 include Peguero, Neal, Noonan, Culberson, Joseph, RafRod, Chuckie Jones, Stoffel, Kickham, Surkamp, Escobar, Hembree, Graham.

          With a core of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Wilson, Romo, Posey, and Sandoval, the Giants just need complementary players to surround them in order to win enough games to win the NL West. As I’ve been saying for a while, long before the Giants made the World Series, the 2010 decade will be known as the Giants decade.

    • BalcoBomber 5 years ago

      There is a reason why they were called a group of ‘cast offs.’

  4. pageIan–I respect your opinion because if anyone knows mediocrity it’s a Cub’s fan. However, the Giants will stay contenders because of their youth. The Giants strength, the starting rotation is under contract for the next 3 years as is their closer Wilson. Posey is a cornerstone they can build the team around for years, Sandoval may or may not reclaim what he was last year but could be a key cog in the lineup and their top prospect Brandon Belt is a first baseman that dominated at every minor league level this year. Mix in a couple short term free agent signings, i.e Huff, Uribe, Burrell and this team will be in the mix for the forseeable future. Rowands deal is up after next year, and Zito has 3 years left so his contract will expire before Lincecum or Cain will hit free agency.

    • Reaper87 5 years ago

      Rowand’s contract goes through 2012, so we’re on the hook for 2 more years…unfortunately. In a very weak shortstop free agent class, Uribe is gonna be overpaid, so I see him most likely leaving. Signing Ross, Burrell and Huff to reasonable contracts, and an arbitration raise to Sanchez seems pretty close to a wash financially with Uribe and Renteria coming off the books. That leaves shortstop as the only real hole on this team going forward

      • thegrayrace 5 years ago

        Rowand might be movable considering the poor FA class of CFers this off-season. Giants would have to eat a significant part of that contract, but I’d think they could do something similar to what the Dodgers did with Juan Pierre…

      • Let’s say the Giants are unable to sign anyone due to payroll issues (I’m not sure what other FA SS are available), do you think they’d consider moving Freddy Sanchez to SS and play DeRosa at 2B?

  5. wickedkevin 5 years ago

    Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner for under $15m. Beyond a bargain.

    • Sniderlover 5 years ago

      And then you see Zito… and you facepalm.

      He is really holding them back. If they didn’t have that contract, it would give them more flexibility to go after a big name FA like Crawford which would be great for the team.

      Still, you look at those hitters throughout the line-up and honestly, I’m scratching my head but kudos to Giants for battling and a great definition of how you can win with great pitching and the offense showed up when they needed it to.

      • I agree, the Giants could amount to so much more without Zito. He sure provides moral support, but he could probably stop a 4-game win streak by the Giants cold

  6. I still don’t know whether to consider Brian Sabean’s moves as intelligent, or merely the product of luck.

    • HummBaby 5 years ago

      I agree as far as luck being involved. The other side of that arguement is the fact that countless other teams have gotten to the world series and won championships via midseason trades and pickups that worked out. Bats that got hot, arms that dominated. You have to enjoy the moment and hope for the best. I’m excited. As a lifelong Giant’s fan, I’m ready for a championship to be brought to S.F. I don’t care how we get there as long as we get there.

    • It’s not just luck (though a lot of it is), it’s Brian Sabean being Brian Sabean and the market changing to make his strategies more valuable. Older players, particularly players coming off of down years, are massively undervalued right now. Everyone’s seen the ridiculous value you get from drafting and player development, and they’re all focused on that. You do still get some ridiculous value from drafting, but now most GMs are avoiding 32-35 year old players. Brian Sabean has always loved him some vets, and now he’s getting those vets much cheaper than he used to (circa 2000, for example), so he can buy more of them. He got DeRosa in addition to Huff and no one wanted Burrell so he got him for free. Uribe’s price tag was low enough after his solid 2009 that he could be added as well. Andres Torres was a veteran minor leaguer who showed some ability as a 4th OF in ’09, and pretty much no one saw his breakout, that was very lucky. But it’s not just that luck, it’s the market changing to allow Sabean to pick up more guys, and increase his chances of striking gold.

    • A little of both. Good teams use minor league contracts and the waiver wire wisely. The Giants for years rarely did it. This year they added Todd Wellemeyer (minor league contract that didn’t work out), Pat Burrell (a great waiver pickup) and Cody Ross (another great waiver pickup).

      Sabean’s biggest problem is falling in love with a player and bidding against himself — Aaron Rowand and Edgar Renteria.

  7. titofuentes 5 years ago

    So $45mm, about half the payroll, for four players who are irrelevant or worse–Zito, Rowand, Renteria, DeRosa). The fact that these contracts will be rolling off over the next three years gives the Giants substantial resources to resign their starting rotation when they come up over the next few years as well as to sign some real quality hitters over the coming winter. Through a combination of back-end loaded contracts, interim “bridge” financing, and the post-season profits the organiztion will earn–Sabean will have some real firepower.

  8. Everyone disagreed with me when I said it would be Giants in 6 games.


  9. ThinkBlue10 5 years ago

    so pretty much the phillies gave the giants the series.

  10. yigantee 5 years ago

    SS for 2011 is definitely a concern – looking at the available FA options, there is no obvious fit to play full-time.

    Teams that have a little depth [Boston, TB] don’t match up that well for the Giants to trade with.

    I think Uribe’s agent should be able to get the Giants to commit to a 2-year pact this time around, even though he can’t play the position every day. Crawford isn’t ready yet, so I could see the Giants also signing a veteran for a 1 year deal to split some time with Uribe.

    With Sabean’s M.O., it wouldn’t surprise me if the veteran signed to supplement Uribe would be Renteria for $1-2 million.

    • Reaper87 5 years ago

      I don’t expect much from the guy, but if he’s healthy, Derosa has played a decent amount of short in his career. If he somehow keeps his wrist in order, maybe a Derosa/Burriss platoon with Derosa as supersub for half the field? Gotta be creative I think, really do not want to commit multiple years to Uribe, he’s about to get overpaid in a weak market

  11. Redbirds16 5 years ago

    Excellent post Steve.

  12. mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

    I’ll start by saying I’m not particularly a Giants fan. I don’t hate them, and they did catch my attention because they had that “refuse to die” kind of aura around them.

    One thing you can’t take away from them is their ability to develop their own starting pitchers. 4/5 of the rotation was drafted, signed, developed and successfully delivered, pretty much ready to go, to the major league staff. Even Oakland, and that’s been their thing for awhile, doesn’t have a staff this young and this good right now.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say Sabaen deserves credit for that-he’s got the right people in place-and good young starting pitching is the hardest thing for most clubs to come up with. That the Giants have four-well, I find it remarkable.

  13. I don’t really care about 2011 or beyond. It’s about now. I just want ONE San Francisco Giants World Series Championship in my lifetime. Beat the Rangers and I’m happy for life!

    • GenVallejo 5 years ago

      I agree with you on that one, I’ve been a GIANTS Fan since 1958 and my wish is to see a World Series Flag fly over San Francisco before I leave this world. I’ve supported the team for 52 years and have been frustrated many times over the years. We’ve had 3 chances over the years but something has always happened to continue the drought…………I only hope this time will be different for all of the true life long GIANTS fans. You all deserve one, GOOD LUCK 2010 GIANTS.
      Maybe this year we have enough pitching to do it.

  14. Wilsonl 5 years ago

    Lincecum-Rios trade? Are you shittin me?

  15. Guest 5 years ago

    You’re one to talk.

  16. I don’t think the Rangers are laughing now.

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