Giants have spending flexibility with player contracts

AP Photo/Patrick SemanskySan Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy watches a baseball workout at Comerica Park in Detroit

There has been talk that Bruce Bochy is a potential Hall of Fame manager, but any manager is only as good as his players. Now, Giants GM Brian Sabean has to make certain Bochy has the players.

This World Series championship team was much different than the first one just two years ago, which got contributions from players who were either not that good or, in the case of Edgar Renteria, having one last shot in a solid career. That was not a team for the ages.

This one, though, has a chance to remain competitive for the main prize, if Sabean can keep the pieces together.

Some of them are no-brainers. Marco Scutaro, the spark plug in late season and in the postseason, wants to return and, even though he just turned 37, he should get a two-year contract. Scutaro is a very smart player and hitter, and he fills the hole left by the latest injury to Freddy Sanchez. Angel Pagan, who played a superlative center field and was a great leadoff hitter, also has said he wants to return. He definitely should be re-signed.

Hunter Pence is under team control but is arbitration eligible. There have been guesses he might get as much as $14 million a year in arbitration. It would be better if the Giants could reach a long-term agreement with him.

One important factor: Some big contracts come off the books this winter. Aaron Rowand’s $12 million-a-year-deal is gone, more than a year after the Giants gave up on him and released him. Aubrey Huff’s $10 million contract is gone. Huff went through much mental travail this last year and was never a factor. He should make it official and retire. And, of course, Sanchez’s $6 million contract will be gone, too. That gives Sabean much more negotiating room.

Not to mention that the Giants’ revenue was up greatly, not just from postseason ticket sales, but all that merchandise they sell.

Given the right players, Bochy is an excellent manager. He made some important decisions in the postseason, going with his best defensive lineup and also keeping Buster Posey behind the plate. No more of this nonsense that Hector Sanchez would catch Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito.

That decision should continue into the regular season. Posey is too valuable as a catcher to play him at first base even occasionally, let alone move him to first permanently, as some have suggested. Brandon Belt is almost as good defensively as J.T. Snow, who was the gold standard with the Giants, and he’s developing into the kind of hitter the Giants need at first base. Brandon Crawford should also remain at shortstop. He is a superlative fielder at a critical defensive position. Historically, managers of winning teams have recognized that a shortstop’s glove is much more important than his bat.

Bochy will have some questions with his pitching staff. He’s said he intends to return Lincecum to a starting role, but who knows what version of Lincecum will show up. Ditto with Barry Zito. For sure, he’ll have strong pieces with Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner. The future looks bright.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at glenndickey36@gmail.com.

Bruce BochyGiantsGlenn DickeyTim Lincecum

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