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Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Off-Season Can't Come Fast Enough.

Well, here we are, right in the thick of the Major League baseball playoffs, and for the second dissapointing season in a row, no San Francisco Giants. It's tough for me to become excited about the playoffs when the Giants aren't in it, but I'm a diehard baseball fan, so I still tune in and have interest. As much as it still hurts me to say, I was picking the Angels to go all the way this year, and still am even though they are currently down 2-1 to the Chi Sox and are without their ace for the rest of the series. If the Angels don't go, I predict the winner to come from the NL, I'm still not sold on the White Sox. The NLCS is very evenly matched, and tough to pick, but I think Houston's pitching may prevail.

Enough about the post-season for now. The world series is right around the corner, so that means we are inching closer and closer to the offseason. This is going to be a very interesting winter for Brian Sabean. Right of the bat, as soon as the series is over, the Giants will have to make decisions on Jason Schmidt who holds a 10 million dollar option and Randy Winn who holds a 5 million dollar option. Both are expected to return, and Winn is expected to ink a long-term deal before the start of the '06 season, but Schmidt is an intersting subject. He has steadily declined over the last year dating back to the end of the '04 season. He didn't pitch like an ace this year and didn't show he's worth the 10 million but the Giants don't have many other options, he's still their ace. Also, top lefty reliever Scott Eyre, J.T. Snow and Brett Tomko are all scheduled for free agency this winter and only Eyre looks to have a decent shot at returning. On the field, the position where I feel the Giants can improve most this winter is at first base. Lance Niekro emerged last year, but he still has big holes against right-handed pitching and has shown to be quite injury prone in his proffesional career. Snow would be nice to have back as a late inning replacement and part-timer, but I doubt he will go for that. 2 guys who may be available who I think fit in nicely are Lyle Overbay from the Brewers and Aubrey Huff from the Devil Rays. Either would be perfect in front of Barry Bonds and Moises Alou. Overbay may become very expandable in Milwaukee after the solid play of Prince Fielder. Of course everybody wants to trade Durham and Alfonzo, but there's a reason why that hasn't happened. Believe me, if the Giants found a taker for Alfonzo, they'd jump on it, but the guy plays like he's 55 years old and is becoming worse each year. There isn't much of a market there.

Pitching wise, I like how the young rotation is shaping up although I still think they need another veteran to come in and be a #2 behind Schmidt and in front of Noah Lowrey and Matt Cain. A few guys who are due for free agency who may spark some interest are Matt Morris and Jerrod Washburn. Both can eat innings and have some valuable post-season experience. Sabean knew he over-estimated his starting pitching last season, I highly doubt he makes the same mistake 2 years in a row. As far as the Pen, which was once this teams biggest downfall this season, could be the teams biggest strength next season. Benitez should be healthy and hungry and those youngters like Jeremy Accardo, Scott Munter, and Jack Taschner who really stepped up big this season, will be back for their first full seasons with the big club. If the Giants bring back Eyre, and LeTroy Hawkins can revert (somewhat) back to his Minnesota days, this bullpen could be the class of the NL.
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