I recently posed this question on Twitter: “Question: bring back Ross in 2012? Y/N.” and I got several good responses.
A brief glance at the Giants’ current depth chart for the outfield and you’ll see why the Giants might consider a Ross redux.
The current depth chart, with some commentary.
LF/1B Brandon Belt – Talented prospect, mixed results, could be the starter in LF in 2012
LF Pat Burrell – Health problems, FA in 2012, hard to tell if he’ll be back
OF Andres Torres – Down year in 2011, still under team control
OF Justin Christian – 31-year-old career minor leaguer, has hit .293/.359/.432 in 3,786 minor league games
OF Carlos Beltran – FA in 2012, wouldn’t mind having back, assumed high price
OF Darren Ford – Still under team control, fast, can’t hit
OF Nate Schierholtz – 112 OPS+ in 2011 with the usual solid defense in RF, injury problems with foot
So in our group we’ve got a struggling prospect, a defensively challenged masher signed to an extremely team-friendly deal, our former dynamo leadoff hitter who is also struggling, a career minor leaguer, a highly prized free agent, a fast guy that can’t hit, and a player in Nate Schierholtz that’s had a pretty nice year. Stability it ain’t.
On the flip side, there is Cody Ross.
Year Age Tm Lg PA Outs BAbip OPS+ ISO 2005 24 LAD NL 26 22 .267 4 .040 2006 25 TOT NL 298 220 .249 87 .204 2007 26 FLA NL 197 118 .371 173 .318 2008 27 FLA NL 506 352 .299 107 .228 2009 28 FLA NL 604 430 .306 104 .199 2010 29 TOT NL 569 397 .324 96 .145 2011 30 SFG NL 461 323 .279 105 .165 8 Seasons 2683 1874 .301 105 .195
The pros for Ross are: league average bat — though he’s doing it differently this year by walking more and hitting for less power — that can play all three OF positions. UZR has Ross as an average defender in LF, CF, and RF. Defensive runs saved — the plus/minus variant — has Ross at +7 in his career in LF, +9 in CF, and +14 in RF. Those are cumulative scores and not pro-rated on a seasonal basis. Any player that can swing a league average bat and play near average defense in CF is a good player to have.
The cons for Ross are: If the Giants offer him arbitration, chances are he could accept and be expensive. Ross is earning $6.3M this season with the Giants. If the team offers arbitration, and he accepts, he’s most likely going to push his salary in the $8M range. That’s a lot of money for a good versatile outfielder. Ross is around a 2 WAR player most years, so even if the Giants are paying him $8M, his salary wouldn’t be outrageous. However, the current spending climate with the Giants is murky and it’ll be hard to tell how much money — if any — the Giants want to spend this offseason.
The Giants’ number one priority in this offseason should be adding to an offense that’s ranked dead last in the NL for huge stretches of 2011. Recent statements from Brian Sabean indicate that the team is going to first take care of its pitching and then focus on positions like outfield and shortstop afterwards. I’m in favor of bringing back Carlos Beltran to the team, but his salary demands could price him out of the Giants’ budget.
I think the Giants will hang on to Nate, Belt, and Torres* — leaving two spots open in the outfield.
* A quick side-note on Andres Torres … there’s no chance that the team will cut ties with him. He’s struggled at the plate this year, but he’s still arbitration eligible for the next two seasons and his defense and baserunning alone make him a good use of a roster spot. If Torres can get back on track as a hitter, he’s a starter on any team in baseball.
So, Ross certainly seems like a possibility to return to the Giants. There’s (theoretically) room for him on the 2012 roster. Personally, I think the Giants will make a push for David DeJesus; he was a player the Giants had interest in 2010 near the deadline, but DeJesus hurt himself before the Giants could finalize a trade and the team ended up picking up Cody Ross. DeJesus is having a down year (94 wRC+) but he’s been a solid player in the past. He reminds me a little bit, player-type wise, of Randy Winn: average bat, good defense in the OF, good baserunner, solid total package, if not very flashy.
Comment starter: Outside of Beltran, whom we all want, who do you want to fill the final two spots in the 2012 outfield?