The San Francisco Giants headed into the offseason with a couple important areas to address. First of all, they had to upgrade their starting rotation. To address this, they signed Tim Hudson, re-signed Tim Lincecum, and re-signed Ryan Vogelsong. Next on the list is to address the left field situation.
The Giants are stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place in terms of finding a left fielder. Giants management is wary about spending the big bucks to get a big-name free agent like Shin-Soo Choo. They’re also wary about giving up some of their top prospects, such as Kyle Crick, Edwin Escobar and Chris Stratton, in order to trade for a serviceable everyday left fielder.
In addition to these problems, there aren’t many outfielders currently on the market that could be signed at a lower price level. The Giants have been connected to some of them, such as Brett Gardner and Jeff Baker, but those are purely just speculative rumors.
It seems as if the Giants will ultimately go with another left field platoon this season. Giants fans might not be happy about it, but the Giants seem content about going into the 2014 season with a platoon of Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez.
Giants fans know what Blanco can bring to the Giants. His strongest asset is his superior defense. He’s fast so he can cover a lot of ground, he can play all three outfield positions and he has a strong arm. Offensively, he failed to find that consistency that the Giants needed from him when Angel Pagan went down with his hamstring injury.
There are actually a lot of similarities between how Blanco and Perez play. Like Blanco, Perez is very talented defensively. He can also play all three outfield spots, he also has great range and he also has a strong, accurate arm.
Offensively, Perez would provide the right-handed bat in the platoon. When he was first called up by the Giants last season, he struggled to find consistency. However, when he was called up again in September, he started to feel more comfortable at the plate. In September, he hit .277 with one home run and five RBI. Overall, he hit .333 with runners in scoring position and he hit .333 against right-handed pitchers.
Both Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean have said that their main focus right now in the winter meetings is to find a left fielder. However, Bochy also said that he was very impressed with Perez’ play at the end of the 2013 season and that a Blanco-Perez platoon “is a pretty good safety valve. I’m pretty comfortable that if nothing happens, at least we have him.”
If the Giants do decide to go with a Blanco-Perez platoon in 2014, it will certainly improve their defense. Torres was the weak link, defensively, in last season’s left field platoon with Blanco, and Perez is certainly a defensive upgrade from Torres.
Offensively, it’s unclear if Perez could consistently contribute at the plate over the course of a full season. Also, since he’d be splitting starts with Blanco, he’d have to adjust to not playing everyday and not getting consistent at-bats. This would be a tough adjustment for a young hitter, so, even though Perez would be an upgrade defensively, there’s still a lot of uncertainty about his ability to hit consistently.
A Blanco-Perez platoon might not be ideal, but Giants management seems confident that Perez can continue his hot streak from 2013 and carry some of that momentum into the 2014 season, if he does in fact form a platoon with Blanco.