New faces in Giants camp this spring
Most Giants fans were frustrated by the team’s moves in the offseason and its inability to add a power bat. But the moves to add Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan gives the teams two quality options at the top of the lineup, a sore spot for the Giants in 2011. Giants leadoff hitters hit .232 with a .292 OBP in 2011, leading to their offensive woes.
Cabrera and Pagan are locks to make the 2012 squad, with Ryan Theriot having a solid shot. Other additions are longshots to make the team. Here’s a look at the new Giants in camp this spring.
OF Angel Pagan: Pagan was acquired in a trade with the Mets for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez. Pagan emerged as one of the top CFs in the National League in 2010 offensively and defensively, when he hit .290 with 11 HRs, 69 RBI and 37 SBs. But injuries derailed him in 2011, when he fell back to .262, 7 HR, 56 RBI and 32 SBs in 123 games. His clubhouse attitude also led to him falling out of favor with the Mets. The Giants hope new surroundings will rekindle Pagan.
OF Melky Cabrera: Cabrera was acquired from the Royals in the trade for Jonathan Sanchez. Cabrera was switch-hitting up-and-comer with the Yankees until he was traded to the Braves in 2010, when he tanked in his lone NL season. He hit .252 with 4 HR and 42 RBI. But he rebounded nicely with the Royals in 2011, posting career bests with .305 avg, 18 HR, 87 RBI and 102 runs scored. The Giants are hoping for another year like that.
IF Ryan Theriot: Theriot, 32, is a career .282 hitter with little power in seven seasons, mostly with the Cubs. He signed with the Cardinals last season to play shortstop, but ended the season platooning at second base after St. Louis added Rafael Furcal. He started Games 3 and 7 of the World Series at 2B vs. left-handed starters. But the Cards were “not satisfied” with his defense and non-tendered him. Theriot drew interest from the Braves, Mets, Rays and Rockies in the offseason, but mostly as a reserve. Theriot ended up signing a non-guaranteed offer with the Giants, likely because they gave him the best shot at starting. But the fact that he hit .310 last season against lefties could put him into a platoon situation with Brandon Crawford.
RP Clay Hensley: Hensley had his best season in 2006, going 11-12 with a 3.71 ERA with the Padres. He’s spent the past two seasons with the Marlins, going 6-7 with 5.19 ERA in 37 appearances (9 starts) in 2011. He signed a non-guaranteed contract and was brought in as insurance. He’ll compete for a long-relief spot in the bullpen, but likely will use the spring as an audition for another club.
LP Brian Burres: Burress was drafted by the Giants in 2000 but was released in 2005. He pitched parts of six big-league seasons with the Orioles, Blue Jays and Pirates, mostly as a starter. He has an 18-25 career record with a 5.75 ERA. He was 1-0 with 3.86 ERA in five appearances (two starts) with the Pirates in 2011. He’s a longshot to make the club, more likely to head to Fresno if he accepts the assignment.
RP Ramon Ortiz: Ortiz is an 11-season big leaguer, most known to Giants fans for being the winner pitcher for the Angels in Game 3 of the 2002 World Series. Ortiz spent the 2009 season in the Giants’ system, pitching for the Fresno Grizzlies. He spent last season with the Cubs, going 1-2 with 4.86 ERA in 22 appearances. The 39-year-old is a longshot to make the club.
OF Gregor Blanco: With Blanco, 28, the Giants are hoping to find another Andres Torres, a journeyman outfielder who finds his stride with the club. Blanco is a singles-hitting speedster who broke in the Braves in 2008. But he hasn’t played in the majors since hitting .283 in 85 games with the Braves and Royals in 2010. He spent an injury-plagued season with the Nationals’ Triple-A club in 2011.
2B Joaquin Arias: Arias, 27, has not made much of a big-league splash, topping out with 72 games played in 2010 with the Rangers and Mets. He spent 2011 with the Royals’ Triple-A club, hitting just .232.