I am a big fan of the job John Barr is doing, so it irks me to read consistently about how bad the Giants' Minor League system is. I feel like our players are underrated. I see Gary Brown, Chris Stratton and Kyle Crick being talked about, but the feeling is that the organization has little else to offer. This notion upsets me when I see that great players like Shawn Payne, Clayton Blackburn, Joe Panik and Chris Heston are never mentioned, despite consistent success. My question: Is the Giants' Minor League system as bad as the "experts" make it out to be?
-- John G., San Diego
John G. goes to the head of this Inbox class for mentioning Barr, who oversees San Francisco's amateur and international scouting. I share the high regard for Barr's performance. I can't understand why Barr hasn't been considered more often when general manager positions become vacant, just as I can't fathom why another team hasn't given bench coach Ron Wotus a chance to manage on the big league level. Barr knows talent. Every time Buster Posey gets a hit or makes a nice defensive play for the Giants, it's a reflection on Barr. He knew Posey was special when the eventual National League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player was 16 years old. Barr worked for the Dodgers then. Try not to think about what life would be like if Posey were wearing Dodger Blue.
Maybe the Giants' farm system lacks the depth of talent other organizations possess. But those organizations didn't spend their No. 1 draft picks on Tim Lincecum in 2006, Madison Bumgarner in 2007 and Posey in 2008. And right-hander Zack Wheeler, the Giants' first-rounder in 2009 who was traded to the Mets for Carlos Beltran, appears destined to be a productive pitcher. At a glance -- and I welcome readers to provide further evidence -- the only team to reap a more fruitful crop of first-rounders in that span was Tampa Bay, which grabbed Evan Longoria in '06 and David Price in '07.
The bottom line is this: Anybody claiming that the Giants have an inferior farm system has a woefully short memory. San Francisco has won two of the last three World Series. Isn't that every club's ultimate goal? Moreover, numerous "homegrown" players besides the aforementioned (Matt Cain, Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and others) have furthered San Francisco's ability to capture the ultimate prize.Can pitching coach Dave Righetti and bullpen coach Mark Gardner turn Jonathan Sanchez into a successful reliever?
-- Mike O., Guayabitos, Mexico
The notion of bringing back Sanchez, a free agent who won't command a high salary after his subpar 2010-11 seasons, is intriguing. His skill remains tantalizing, though the diminished velocity and command that he displayed with the Giants in 2010 was disturbing. But Sanchez has bullpen experience and just might be suited to display his stuff in short, intense bursts, as Lincecum did in the postseason. Though the Giants have a full complement of left-handers (Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Jose Mijares and Dan Runzler), the more the merrier. If anybody can coax effectiveness from Sanchez, it's Righetti, Gardner and vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow, a group that probably knows him better than anyone.I see Andres Torres is available as a free agent. He's a fan favorite, a switch-hitter and can play all three outfield positions. Would the Giants be willing to bring him back to platoon in left field with Gregor Blanco? I really don't see anyone giving Torres a starting spot or paying starter money.
-- Justin R., Benicia, Calif.
Nobody is a bigger Torres fan than me (check my MLBlog
for a reminder). But the Giants need somebody with a little more pop than Torres.Why haven't I heard more on a potential Michael Morse-to-the-Giants deal? The Nationals are looking for bullpen help, so the Giants could send a package of Heath Hembree, Santiago Casilla and another prospect for Morse. Morse would look good in the middle of the Giants' lineup and can play a corner-outfield spot plus first base.
-- Brian S., Clovia, Calif.
Morse suits the profile of the type of hitter the Giants could use. But (1) he'll earn $6.75 million this year, which is more than the Giants probably can afford; (2) he'll be a free agent after next season, and I doubt that he'd want to stay in San Francisco after a summer of struggling to hit pitches out of AT&T Park and sharing playing time with Blanco; and (3) his OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) slid dangerously from .910 in 2011 to .791 in '12, though injuries may have precipitated the decline. I can't envision the Giants yielding Hembree and
Casilla, who might be needed as part-time closers in 2013, for Morse.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com.