I know the Giants are in the thick of the playoff race, but their recent troubles have got me wondering about next year and how we can improve.  I think it is clear that this team, while they still have a chance, remains behind the top teams in the National League in terms of talent.

Looking ahead to the offseason, GM Brian Sabean of the San Francisco Giants is going to have some interesting decisions to make.  I personally don’t  think Sabean should still have a job making any decisions, let alone interesting ones, but let’s leave him alone for awhile and just discuss amongst ourselves what the best way to handle those interesting decisions might be.  The Giants current lineup is, at best, average.  Despite the Giants recent pitching woes, I think the lineup is where we have the most room for improvement.

First, let’s identify the guys the Giants want to keep:

Andres Torres, Buster Posey, Huff, Burrell, and Uribe.  Those guys would be solid contributors to a solid lineup.  All of those guys except for Buster are on one year deals and need to be resigned in the offseason.

Then there are the guys who will be on the team next year, but they leave doubt in the minds of many as whether or not they can be counted on.

Pablo Sandoval, Freddy Sanchez, and Travis Ishikawa.  It is unlikely that all three of those guys will find themselves in the everyday lineup next year.  I’d like to see Ishikawa given a shot, but there just isn’t really much room for him. 

In these two groups we already have our eight position players mentioned.  Then when you factor in Mark de Rosa coming back, the Giants are really facing a logjam.  Of course, this assuming that every player in that first group is on the team again next year (which I would be in favor of).  If we bring back Torres, Huff, Burrell, and Uribe and pair them with the starters we already have signed for next year—Sandoval, Posey, Sanchez, and de Rosa—you have the Giants starting lineup right there. 

The problem is the only way the lineup could be better than this year’s is if Sandoval and Sanchez turn themselves around.  And I do not think that’s good enough heading into next year.  I want the lineup to be different in a concrete way that you can point to and say, yes, this definitely makes the offense better. 

So, to my mind there are two ways we can do this.  One would be instead of resigning one of either Huff, Uribe, Torres, or Burrell, we sign someone even better than they are.  Think Carl Crawford instead of Andres Torres.  The problem with this is a) it’s expensive and b) Torres is already pretty good, so we pay a lot of money to improve only marginally.

The second way would be to replace an underperforming asset with a better one.  The prime candidates here are Sandoval and Sanchez.  Trading one of them for a player who’s guaranteed to produce at their position is a guaranteed improvement. 

The difficult thing is both these players have high potential ceilings of production, and it would be painful to see them reach that ceiling with another team.  Of the two, Freddy would be the best to move in my opinion.  I just don’t  know what we could get for him. 

After that, I would say signing an all-star caliber shortstop in place of Uribe is the next best move the Giants can make.  The issue is how much of a raise will Burrell and Huff get, and how much money will the team have leftover afterwards.

From my perspective, the Giants lineup will likely look much the same, with one of two possible differences playing out.  Both lineups would have the following six guys:

Torres, Posey, Huff, Burrell,  Sandoval, and de Rosa. 

Then either Sanchez would be replaced at 2B, or Uribe would be replaced at SS.  Maybe both are gone.  As for how we should replace them and with whom, I do not know.  That’s something I would love to hear thoughts about. 

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