Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Should the Giants sign Jose Reyes?

I keep having this nagging thought in the back of my head, a thought I don’t really want to happen.  It brings equal parts of interest and dread to me.

I think the Giants might sign Jose Reyes.

Let's take a real look at this for a second.  How many other GM’s and teams would’ve traded a high prospect like Thomas Neal for an aged, sliding veteran like Orlando Cabrera for a playoff run?  Maybe only our Gigantes.  And to replace an aging veteran shortstop, who we willingly signed for $6.5M last offseason.  Seriously.

Consider the poor strategic moves made this year.  We gave up Zach Wheeler, Henry Sosa, Jason Stoffel, Thomas Neal, and released Jose Casilla, Ryan Rohlinger, Clayton Tanner, Aaron Rowand (including his $12M salary for 2012), Miguel Tejada, and Bill Hall (after also acquiring him).  All for what?  Two months of Beltran.  A 31-year utility infielder, Jeff Keppinger.  A 36-year old Orlando Cabrera to replace a bad 37-year old Miguel Tejada at shortstop.  Another utility infielder, Bill Hall, who couldn’t even earn a starting spot on the 100-loss Houston Astros.

The Giants front-office decided to ‘make a splash’ at this trade deadline.  Maybe it was partly to the fans.  Maybe for the pitchers.  Maybe a little too much ego from a World Series Championship glossed over the rationale of trading Wheeler for a 2-month rental.  I’m just sayin…  I wouldn’t put it past the Giants brain trust to 'make a splash' and sign Jose Reyes.

It wouldn’t be without precedence that the Giants take a chance on an injury-prone player.  I won’t even get into the list.  The recent list.  We all know the names.  Seemingly every single $6M player we have signed recently has the initials D.L.  And a few others do too.

Luckily (IMHO), there are likely to be several serious suitors for Reyes.  I haven’t read others’ predictions, these are completely my own opinions.  I'd currently rank them in this order:

  • PHI: If they let Jimmy Rollins go, they’d be a top candidate for Reyes and a lead-off hitter.
  • BOS: They’d be so stacked at the top of their lineup, they’d have to be creative.  But with Scutaro a free agent in 2012, I have to figure Reyes’ productivity would be welcomed in Boston.
  • ATL: Sure, they got Bourn as a leadoff hitter.  But they don’t have a solid shortstop (Jack Wilson & Alex Gonzalez?).  I bet they could be alright with either Bourn or Reyes batting in the 2-hole, probably Reyes.
  • DET: If they want to get serious about contending, they might think of trading a solid SS in Jhonny Peralta to make space for Reyes as their leadoff.  It could happen.
  • WAS: I don’t put anything past the Nats.  I’ve said I think they are building a serious contender by 2013, and I’m sticking to that.  If they can find a new home (via trade) for a solid, cheap, team-controlled Ian Desmond; I bet Washington would be in the bidding battles for Reyes.  I have a feeling the Nats might nearly double payroll in the next couple years.
  • CIN: I don't know if the Reds will have the kind of payroll to cover Reyes, but they're on the edge of being a highly competitve team with Votto, Phillips, Bruce, Stubbs, and all.  I see Janish and Renteria as an offensive position that could be really upgraded with Reyes.  Phillips would move to #2 spot, and maybe gets lots more RBI's, hitting HR's with Reyes on.  Not likely, but possible as a dark horse.
If you really want to stretch the bidding, you might find AZ or SD or LAD put a bid in for Reyes.  Not sure any could really afford him, so I don’t consider them major contenders.  However, if LAD sort out their sale to a new owner, well…  They might just keep Kemp, Kershaw, and have Reyes as well.  Oh, that could be bad for us Giants fans.

How much has Reyes’ stock fallen due to his stints on the DL this season?  A bunch.  Maybe heaps.  Some teams might now offer a 5-year limit, others maybe a $100 million budget over 6 years.  How many teams left in this conversation still have enough payroll to spend on Jose Reyes?  At the trade deadline, I thought someone would pay $120M over 6-years.  Now, I think a majority of those suitors have dropped their budget/terms substantially for him.

I see the Giants maybe offering $115M for 6-years, and nobody else coming close.  I even heard that the Giants wouldn’t go after Reyes at the trade deadline, but MIGHT be saving $120M to plan a run for him during free agency this offseason.  Oh shizzle.

So let’s see.  Let’s say we don’t sign Reyes.  The Giants might bottom-feed and pick up Desmond.  I mentioned Desmond in my post at the trade deadline.  We might end up with Tejada 3.0 in Marco Scutaro.  I wanted Scutaro back in 2008(?) when he went to Boston, I wanted Scutaro and Ryan Braun as my top trade deadline targets.  *sigh*  What could’ve been…  Or we sign Rollins.

I was so excited by the potential of a homegrown rotation, Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Wheeler, and maybe Crick.  I just hope we use our remaining prospects well.  Please nothing crazy like Gary Brown for Juan Pierre or Ian Desmond.

So here’s my problem with Jose Reyes signing as a Giant.  I can’t ‘figure’ a solid roster for less than $150M per year, each year through 2016.  It just doesn’t ‘work.’  I go through my projected salaries and roster estimates.  I don’t see a way we ‘fit’ Reyes on a team that has a significant 3-4-or 5 hitter upgrade as well.

Let’s say we can trade Zito for Wells…  Wells has no business being above 6th in a serious lineup, considering his 2011 performance.  I really think we need a batter that lets Posey move to 5th, that would be ideal.  Either a Kemp or Pujols 3rd, or a Cuddyer or Melky Cabrera or Jeff Francoeur 4th.

Keeping Posey 4th and having Josh Willingham or Aubrey Huff or Vernon Wells 5th just isn’t quite ‘deep’ enough IMO.  Not to build a championship team.  A real, legit Championship team for a 5-year run.

I can’t figure a way to get both Reyes and Cuddyer on a team roster for less than $150M.  We either eat Zito’s contract and it stays on the books, or we trade and have Vernon Wells’ bat on the books for $21M per from 2012 through 2014.  Personally I want Wells in LF over Zito wasting a roster spot.  Period.  No question.  No doubt.  And see, if we’re spending $150M each year, I think there are a dozen ways to better spend and build a long-term roster than Jose Reyes.

The numbers don’t work.  Reyes would likely mean we field Belt in RF and Torres or Christian in CF.  Our bench would be Pill, Crawford, and other unproven prospects.  Schierholtz would likely be gone since he’s arbitration eligible and going to make seven-figures.  We’d likely have doubts from 6-8 in our lineup, and our pitcher batting 9th.  Maybe it works out, maybe not.  I just don’t like the potential of 4 easy outs every time our lineup turns over.  Maybe.

But those ‘maybes’ would ‘likely’ be the end of Matt Cain being a Giant.  I bet he’d ask to be traded if he gets wind of this plan to get Reyes.  Get us some players in return while we still can, otherwise we get draft picks after 2012 when he walks as a free agent.  I mean, would Cain be confident we’ll be improved in 2012 if he sees our 5-hitter is Pill/Huff, #6 is Belt, #7 Vernon Wells, and #8 Brandon Crawford?  I just don’t see it.

Jose Reyes just doesn’t ‘fit’.

I wrote about how Pujols or Fielder doesn’t ‘fit’ and what a roster could look like at $150M each year.
Now, I’m saying Reyes doesn’t ‘fit’.

Heck, I might change my #1 target to Matt Kemp.

If we got Kemp, we might be able to deal with Rollins, or Ian Desmond even, instead of Aybar.  Maybe we could package some prospects with Schierholtz, Belt, and Brian Wilson for some great young players.  Like Kolten Wong or Desmond Jennings.  And we’d still have Brown and Panik in the pipeline to hopefully offer a lead-off and/or #2 hitter if needed.

I still say throw our farm towards L.A.  Heck, I don’t care, sign the deed for the Salem- Keizer Volcanoes over to them.  Like I said, I don’t care.  Just get Matt Kemp.  Could you seriously imagine:
2-Sanchez, 3-Kemp, 4-Sandoval, 5-Posey, 6-Wells, 7- Pill/Huff.

You could have enough options from there.

Leadoff could be: Aybar, Crisp or Rollins, maybe Jhonny Peralta.
Your 8-hitter could be: Belt, Schierholtz, Crawford, Crisp, Desmond, or even Ross.

If we got Kemp, we can have a serious 2-7 immediately.  Seems like the best-case scenario to me.

Better than Pujols.  Better than Fielder.  Better than Reyes.  Better than Hanley Ramirez.  Better than Brandon Phillips.

I mean, think about this 2011 season.  Our batters couldn’t hit a wall if they were holding a full paint bucket.  The lineup options with Kemp look really good to me, at least.

Yeah, I’m starting to think we should make trading for Kemp our #1 priority this offseason.

I don’t even care if we have to face a tough (and pissed off) Brian Wilson 18 times per season.  (Not really likely there would be save situations in EVERY Giants/Dodgers game, eh?).  Think about it.  We’d have a 4.5+ runs/game offense for 162 games.

I’d take my chances.

Image credit:  Jose Reyes image from begonewithwilpon.

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