Continuing from this morning's season preview of the Giants…
Did Brian Sabean make the right move by re-signing Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan, and multiple relievers this offseason?
Sabean has been criticized for years over his "veteran fetish", a tendency that came into focus once again this offseason when he handed multi-year contracts to Scutaro and Pagan, as well as relievers Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Castilla, and Sergio Romo. All five of those players are on the wrong side of 30, with Romo at 30 being the youngest of the five. Was Sabean's desire to keep a veteran championship team together the right move?
Here's the thing about the Giants: despite all of those older guys on the roster, the actual core of the team is pretty young. Pablo Sandoval is 26. Buster Posey will be 26 next week. Brandon Belt will be 25 in April. Madison Bumgarner is 23. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are the elder statesmen of the core at 28-years old each.
But despite that young core, and Sabean's flood of veteran signings last winter, the Giants could run into some issues next year. Lincecum and Hunter Pence are free agents. Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong both have club options for 2014, and while Vogelsong's looks like a bargain if he keeps performing well, Zito's will surely be declined. The team is also planning on rolling with a left field platoon of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres this season, which isn't exactly inspiring.
The Giants could go into 2014 needing to fill holes in each corner outfield spot along with two holes in the rotation. Their farm system isn't in great shape right now, and the only players that will likely end up contributing in 2014 (or even 2013) are reliever Heath Hembree and possibly outfielder Gary Brown, though his ceiling has come down substantially after a disappointing 2012 campaign in AA.
And therein lies the problem for the Giants. While they've got that solid young core under control for awhile, they're going to have holes in important spots to fill next year, with a lot of money devoted to that aging group of players that might start to face a dropoff this season. This winter could have been a good chance for Sabean and the Giants to move on and maybe get a little younger, but they stubbornly kept their championship team together. We'll see how it ends up playing out for them over the next three or four seasons, but I'd bet on all of their performances starting to decline.