The 3 Biggest Winners and Losers from the San Francisco Giants' Offseason
The San Francisco Giants have upgraded their roster and the happiest man on the team may be manager Bruce Bochy.
In 2013, the Giants were hit hard by injuries and struggled to a 76-86 record. Bochy, who is a master at getting the most out of his roster, was short-handed in virtually every area.
General manager Brian Sabean was very aggressive this winter and retained Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez and Ryan Vogelsong. In addition, Sabean signed free-agent pitcher Tim Hudson and left fielder Michael Morse.
Whether Sabean did enough with these moves to get the Giants back into the postseason remains to be seen.
Let's take a closer look at the Giants' three biggest winners and losers this offseason.
Loser No. 3: Jose Mijares
Jose Mijares joined the Giants in the middle of the 2012 season. He pitched well, helping to get the Giants their second world championship in three seasons.
However, 2013 was a completely different story. Mijares was terrible and lost the confidence of manager Bruce Bochy. In 49 innings of work, Mijares allowed 67 hits and 20 walks while striking out 54. His ERA was 4.22 and his WHIP ballooned to 1.776.
Not only was Mijares ineffective, but he was woefully out of shape. Listed at 5'11" and 265 pounds, Mijares looked sloppy and pitched even sloppier.
When the Giants signed reliever Javier Lopez, Mijares was dropped from the 40-man roster. Now a free agent, Mijares' days as a Giant are over.
Winner No. 3: Michael Morse
In 2013, the Giants got the lowest level of offensive production out of the left field position in the league.
GM Brian Sabean took a calculated risk and signed Michael Morse to a one-year, $6 million contract.
While Morse is a weak defensive player, the Giants are hoping his offensive production will more than compensate for any defensive liabilities. In addition, the Giants can replace Morse in the late innings with Gregor Blanco, an outstanding defensive player.
Morse is coming off a poor season, which is why he was a relatively cheap option for the Giants. In 2013, in 312 at-bats, Morse hit only .215 with 13 home runs and 27 RBI.
Sabean and the Giants are hoping Morse can recapture his old form of 2011. That was his best season, hitting .303 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI in 522 at-bats. Morse's OBP was a very good .360 to go along with an excellent OPS of .910.
Morse is getting a fresh start in 2013 with a team that needs him. If he can stay healthy and produce, he will be a great addition to the Giants' lineup.
Loser No. 2: Roger Kieschnick
When you have toiled in the minor leagues for five seasons and finally get your opportunity at the big-league level, the last thing you want to do is perform poorly.
Unfortunately for Roger Kieschnick, he did just that. Due to injuries, Kieschnick got his shot last year and did not impress.
Kieschnick showed a lot of pop in his bat in the minors. In 2013, while playing for the Giants' Triple-A affiliate in Fresno, Kieschnick had 102 hits in 374 at-bats, which is good for a .273 batting average. What was particularly noteworthy was that 49 of those 102 hits were for extra bases.
In San Francisco, however, the same success did not materialize. Kieschnick had 84 at-bats with the Giants, hitting only .202 with no home runs and five RBI. His OBP was a poor .295 and his OPS a very weak .521.
At the age of 26, Kieschnick may get one more chance, but he has already been passed by Juan Perez. With the addition of Michael Morse, one must wonder if Kieschnick's days as a Giant are numbered.
Winner No. 2: Tim Lincecum
At times, Tim Lincecum can still be a dominant pitcher. He threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in July of last year. However, there were other times when he struggled mightily.
All things considered, Lincecum pitched far better last season than he did in 2012. In 197.2 innings, Lincecum allowed 184 hits and 76 walks while striking out 193. He compiled an ERA of 4.37 and WHIP of 1.315. Lincecum finished the year with 10 wins and 14 losses.
Lincecum is trying to learn to be successful without the same velocity that he had earlier in his career. He needs to do a better job of getting hitters out earlier in the count and not walking so many. However, his strikeout total is proof that he still has very good stuff.
The Giants signed Lincecum to a two-year, $35 million contract, which kept him off the open market. This may have been a bit high, but Lincecum is a fan favorite and the value he brings to the Giants goes much deeper than just wins and losses.
Having Lincecum in a Giants uniform will bring a lot of joy to Giants fans, especially if he can turn it around and have a solid season.
Lincecum showed some very good signs in the second half of 2013, so look for him to have a good season.
Loser No. 1: Andres Torres
In 2010, when the Giants won their first World Series in San Francisco, Andres Torres was a catalyst for the team. He followed that up in 2011 with a mediocre season and was traded to the Mets, along with relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez, for Angel Pagan.
After a very poor 2012, Torres signed with the Giants as a free agent. The plan was to have him platoon with Gregor Blanco in left field.
Unfortunately, Pagan was injured and missed a sizable portion of the season. This thrust both Blanco and Torres into much bigger roles than originally expected. Torres could not handle it, as his age appeared to be catching up to him.
At the plate, Torres hit only .250 with an OBP of .302 and OPS of .644. Torres got 272 at-bats and would have gotten even more had he played better.
His two home runs, 21 RBI and only two stolen bases were far below expectations.
Torres' contract expired following the season and the Giants opted to let him go without making any effort to sign him. Torres is currently looking to catch on with a team.
Torres will be 36 years of age later this month and, due to his advancing years coupled with a lack of production, his days in a big-league uniform may be coming to an end.
Winner No. 1: Hunter Pence
Hunter Pence has found a home in San Francisco. The fans love him and the feeling is mutual.
Pence had an outstanding year in 2013 and led the Giants in almost every offensive category, including home runs, RBI, runs scored, steals and OBP.
Pence played in all 162 games for the Giants last year. In 629 at-bats, Pence hit .283 with 27 home runs, 99 RBI, 91 runs scored and 22 stolen bases. Pence's OBP was .339 and his OPS was .822.
He became a fan favorite for his constant hustle and the sheer joy he played with every day. His defense in right field was also good, which is not easy in the quirky and windy AT&T Park.
Pence desperately wanted to stay in San Francisco, and when he signed a five-year, $90 million contract, he ensured that he would be a Giant through the 2018 season.