The Giants just jumped into the free agency pool for the first time this off-season, and they nabbed a big left-handed pitcher!
Now the question is whether or not to start C.C. Sabathia on opening day, or whether to give Tim Lincecum the honor after winning the first of what will hopefully be several Cy Young awards.
Wait, what? The big left-hander is Jeremy Affeldt? Not Sabathia? Whoops.
Signing Affeldt might be about as sexy as a topless Lou Seal, but it’s an acquisition that’s hard to argue with. Second to addressing their lack of power at the plate, adding help to the bullpen was Brian Sabean’s top priority this off-season. Since they already have Brian Wilson they don’t need to overpay for a closer, but after 2008 they needed legitimate arms to ensure that they didn’t need to trot out guys like Tyler Walker and Vinnie Chulk next year.
If Affeldt’s 2007 season with the Rockies and 2008 year with the Reds are combined, his stats read like this over 149 appearances/137.3 IP: 5-4, 0 saves, 3.41 ERA, 126 K, 1.33 WHIP.
Affeldt isn’t exactly kryptonite for left-handed hitters (his righty/lefty splits are roughly equal), but the Giants are hoping Alex Hinshaw can fill that bill. At best he can be a stabilizing force in the bullpen who can even handle some eighth inning work. At worst he’ll be a solid reliever who won’t have to be optioned to Fresno.
Now all that’s left for the Giants is to sign or trade for a righty reliever (since anybody who thinks Merkin Valdez will ever have a healthy season also thinks Anthony Morrow is going to average 30+ ppg for the Warriors over the rest of the season), another starting pitcher (ditto, Noah Lowry) and, oh yeah, a couple power hitters. And no, Rafael Furcal doesn’t count.
(Sabes, I’m begging you. Don’t sign Furcal. I’m not saying this because he loves driving under the influence, it’s because he’s fragile, never hit more than 15 home runs in a season and his agent is reportedly looking for a four-year, $40 million deal. That’s a bit much for a guy who just turned 31 and only played 36 games last season for the Dodgers due to back issues.)