The Giants are a team that is built around the pitching staff and they have arguably the best 5 man starting rotation in baseball but after Barry Zito there really isn't much there if the unthinkable happens and one of the starters goes down with an injury.
This became even more apparent when the Zips projections for the Giants were released earlier in the week and the guys most likely to fill in had projected ERA+ that were in the mid to upper 70's. Now it is possible that one of these guys could pull a Ryan Sadowski and pull out a couple major league wins based on little video of them and no scouting reports but that is a big gamble and one that is not likely to last more then a start or two.
So if Clayton Tanner, Henry Sosa, Shane Loux and Matt Kinney are not the answer who else is available? Well italicized question asking voice the ideal candidate is cheap and willing to spend a season in AAA and be ready to make some major league starts if necessary.
The Giants have already toyed with the idea of having Dan Runzler work at something like that role as a long relief/6th starter type but there is always the question of control with Runzler and I wonder how many innings he would be able to go seeing that he has the control problems and has never thrown over 100 innings in professional ball.
Some of the names available are not all that attractive but there are some that are interesting.
Brian Bannister: Not a great option but a guy not likely to get many major league opportunities after parting ways with the Royals. It wasn't too long ago that he was a passable major leaguer and for a free agent flier it couldn't be much worse then the in house options.
Jeremy Bonderman: After last year where he was pretty horrible interest in him he is not getting much in the way of offers and may be willing to sign for a minor league contract with the chance of maybe getting a shot. He has upside of being an above average player but it is several seasons removed .I wouldn't put too much stock into this as the Tigers are at least somewhat interested in bringing him back with a chance to compete for the 5th starter spot on that team.
Bruce Chen: An older guy who actually pitched fairly well for the Royals who decided not to offer him a contract. He is likely to be cheap but I don't expect much upside over the in house options in a deal with Chen.
Doug Davis: A local guy (Walnut Creek) who has had a number of successful seasons but is coming off of a ulnar nerve transposition surgery on his throwing arm. He has been a decent pitcher and on a minor league contract insurance deal I think it would be a win win low risk deal.
Justin Duchscherer: When healthy he is a good pitcher but that is the problem he hasn't been able to stay healthy for the last 2 seasons. If he finds that he can not find a major league deal I think the Giants should go after him with a minor league chance. I would expect some team is willing to give him a shot but I would love to have him give the Giants some depth.
John Maine: Another guy coming off of an injury plagued couple of seasons. He doesn't have as high of a ceiling as Duchscherer but is similar to Davis in that he might be willing to take a minor league deal to show other teams he is healthy again. There hasn't been much talk about other teams interested in his services.
Brad Penny: Penny had a great month with the Giants in 2009 and then caught the injury bug in St. Louis last season. He may be interested in trying to regain that magic he had in his brief stint in San Francisco but it is more likely he will get an offer to pitch with a major league club. It would be nice to have him stashed away in case of emergency but I think the odds of this are pretty long.
Nate Robertson: Outside of one season in 2006 he hasn't been a very good pitcher. I would rather go with the young in house options then Robertson.
Ian Snell: He has had some decent seasons but nothing that inspires more then a shoulder shrug. Like so many others on the list stashing him in the minors and hoping not to have to call him up is a good option. I wouldn't want to have to depend on him but he might be better then the in house options but might not be too.
Jeff Suppan: In his career he has been a decent pitcher but now he is getting to be on the wrong side of 30 and will be 36 next season with the low strikeouts he is a guy I wouldn't even really consider.
Todd Wellemeyer: As hard as it is to believe there has not been a rush to sign Wellemeyer. He is not a good pitcher but he didn't suck at home last season and he is projected to pitch better then the in house options. That being said I think that Giants fans have had enough of Wellemeyer and never want to see him in the Orange and Black again. Could he be worth a minor league deal, I guess but there are other guys I would rather see.
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