The San Francisco Giants‘ one-year deal with Nori Aoki became official on Monday night, once Aoki passed his physical. Yesterday, the Giants held a press conference to introduce Aoki as the Giants’ everyday left fielder.
Bruce Bochy, Brian Sabean, and Aoki all spoke about the signing and expectations they have for this upcoming season. It’s clear from their comments that the Giants really value Aoki’s speed and his ability to get on base. Aoki isn’t a power hitter so he won’t replace Pablo Sandoval‘s or Michael Morse‘s power, but he provides a unique set of skills to the Giants.
According to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News, here’s what Sabean said about this topic:
“As we looked at how the team was possibly filling out, we saw it was not going to take a turn towards power,” Sabean said. “We know it’s going to be difficult to replace Sandoval, period, and we are giving up power with Sandoval and Morse (gone), but every team develops their own identity.
“It’s just going to be a different look, a different type of team to try and score four or more runs a game. You have to put a team together based on what’s out there to draw from, and I think we’ve reacted and done that over time.”
Bochy reiterated the same respect for Aoki’s game, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle:
With the loss of Sandoval and Morse, Bochy said, “We’ll be a little different offensively. We won’t have those home runs. If you look at the two guys we acquired, McGehee is a very good clutch hitter. He has a knack for driving in runs and he gets on base, just like Aoki.
“If you don’t have the power, you better have a couple of guys who can handle the bat and move some runners, keep the line moving, as we like to say. Aoki gives us speed, and speed is the best way to replace power if you don’t have that.”
At the press conference, Aoki expressed his excitement about signing with a team that has won three World Series titles in five seasons, and he also was impressed with the Giants’ team chemistry, as Pavlovic pointed out in another article about the press conference:
“I’ve always liked the city of San Francisco. I’ve always had admiration for the Giants and the history they have, and having played against them the past three years I can see that they really play together as a team and this is a team that has a chance to play for a championship every year.”
Krukow went on KNBR on Monday morning and praised Aoki:
“Aoki is a guy who puts the bat on the ball,” Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow told KNBR 680-AM on Monday morning. “He’s very, very unique in his approach. Like a lot of Asian hitters, very flat swing and uses the oppoosite field beautifully and I think he’s a very difficult guy to pitch to because of that.
“He’s not an easy guy to strike out, so in situations where you want to get a guy over or get a guy in, he’s built for that … Aoki is a guy who keeps the line moving and Bochy likes guys like that — guys that can get up there and get a walk, get a knock, use the whole field, you can’t cheat on him defensively…”
“He’s a good player and another guy that will add to rallies and keep things going. In that regard, I really like him.”
Kuiper went on KNBR on Tuesday morning and said the Aoki signing was a good one:
“The Aoki signing is not a sexy signing, but it makes them a lot better, and it gives them more depth,” Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper told KNBR 680-AM on Tuesday morning. “I can remember a number of times sitting on the bus with the manager (Bruce Bochy) and him turning around and saying, ‘With Pagan out, we need some more depth in center field.’
“And it wasn’t that Gregor Blanco isn’t a terrific defender. He is. He’s talking more about setting the table and getting that leadoff hitter on for the other guys.”
“It really helps with Nori Aoki because if something were to happen to Pagan, then he could slide right into that leadoff spot,” Kuiper said.
Lastly, the face of the Giants, Buster Posey, commented on the signing in an interview with Carl Steward of the Bay Area News Group. In this interview, Posey spoke about Aoki, the loss of Sandoval, and his expectations for the 2015 season:
“I think it’s been a good offseason,” he said. “Obviously, you hate to lose Pablo. He’s been so instrumental for us ever since he’s been here. I wish him nothing but the best, but I think (Nori) Aoki is a great talent. He’s a scrappy hitter. Just from calling pitches against him, he’s always been a really tough out. The same thing with Casey (McGahee) at third — he’s a tough out.
“You look around the infield and we’re still really young,” Posey continued. “If we can get (Angel) Pagan back healthy, we know (Hunter) Pence is going to be in there and if we keep getting quality pitching, we should win some games.”
What do you think of the Aoki signing? Did the Giants make the right move? Let us know in the comment section below.