What seems to make sense to me, rather than flying off the handle about what the Giants may or may not do, is to first look at what the Giants need. In that way, we can have a firm basis from which to fly off the handle. So let me start this conversation by saying that the Giants do not need anything in the way of fielders. We hear a lot about how the Giants need a center fielder or a shortstop. That is, in both cases, demonstrably untrue. We have a very talented young shortstop in Brandon Crawford, and several players that can play center field, Cody Ross, Nathan Schierholtz, and Andres Torres, two of whom are arbitration-eligible, and one of whom is a free agent. The reason that this is untrue is because a "shortstop" and a "center fielder" are descriptions of defensive positions. The Giants have adequate players at every defensive position. What the Giants need to upgrade is their offensive positions, which is why I choose to look at the types players that are necessary to compliment the offense, which, as has often been chronicled, was sorely lacking in 2011.
Mostly, the Giants lack an adequate lead-off batter, and lack the big bat that puts fear into opponents' hearts. As much as I relished the days when Barry Bonds would make a nation hold their collective breath during his at bats, I believe that what the Giants most lack is a lead-off batter. It would indeed be nice to have another powerful bat in the line-up. Pablo Sandoval may be a fearsome bat sometimes, and Buster Posey may become one, but neither are quite the kind of batter that opponents really shape their game around. The Giants have no one like an Albert Pujols or a Prince Fielder - guys that can absolutely change a game with one swing of the bat. And therein lies the argument for re-signing Carlos Beltran.
But with Posey, and Sandoval, and a hopefully rejuvenated Aubrey Huff, and some real contributions from Brandon Belt, I believe that the bigger need is a player to bat in the lead-off position that has some potential to get on base a lot. I'm not sure what the on base percentage from the lead-off spot was for the 2011 Giants, but I know that Rowand was less than .300, and Torres was only .312. That's not good enough. It would be great to have someone get on base a fair amount of time. Jose Reyes seems to do this fairly well, with a .341 lifetime obp and a .384 obp for 2011. Jimmy Rollins also has the perception of being valuable in this regard. His obp is not quite as good, .329 lifetime and .338 for 2011. Let's consider those numbers for a moment. In 600 at bats, a healthy Andres Torres would be expected to get on base 187 times in a season and Jose Reyes would get on base between 204 and 230 times. Mr. Rollins would be expected to get on base between 197 and 203 times. So, averaging the two and averaging their lifetime and 2011 totals, 208 times reaching base. That is 21 times more than Andres Torres, or once more every 7.7 games. Is that enough to make a difference? It is at this point where I wish I had enough access to existing baseball statistics and statistical accumen to be able to figure if it indeed would be a meaningful difference or not. It sure doesn't sound like much.
Which brings us back around to the main question. Based on your perception or on a numerical analysis, what do the Giants most need, a fearsome bat, or a dependable lead-off batter?