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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Offseason Review

Here is a look at what transpired this offseason and where the Giants stand because of it:

Who's Gone: '05 Numbers
J.T. Snow 1B (.275, 4, 40)
Brett Tomko RHP (8-15, 4.48)
Edgardo Alfonzo 3B (.277, 2, 43)
LaTroy Hawkins RHP (2-8, 3.43)
Scott Eyre LHP (2-2 2.63)

Who's Here: '05 Numbers
Mark Sweeney 1B-OF (.294, 8, 40)
Matt Morris RHP (14-10, 4.11)
Steve Finley OF (.222, 12, 54)
Tim Worrell RHP (1-2, 4.07)
Steve Kline LHP (2-4, 4.28)
Jose Vizcaino IF (.247, 1, 23)
Jamey Wright RHP (8-16, 5.46)

It was somewhat of a quiet winter on the Giants front. The two biggest moves of the winter where the addition of Morris and the Alfonzo-Finley trade. Replacing Tomko with Morris is a huge upgrade for the Giants. They basically are subbing in a sure 14-17 game winner and a proven clutch performer for a head case with a 95 mph, arrow straight fastball. Not to mention, Morris is younger than Tomko by almost 2 years. Matt fell off in the second half last year after posting 10 wins in the first half, but I think now in his second year removed from elbow surgery, he will be ready to contribute 215+ quality innings. The Finley for Alfonzo deal was a move to put 2 bad contracts in new places where they could be of more help to their respective squads. However, if Finley gets healthy, and gets 400 or so at bats, he could put up big numbers. He is just 2 years removed from his career season in which he hit 36 jacks, and yes he's 41, but he still has the body and strength of a 30 year old. Alfonzo is 32, but plays like he is 42. Worrell should be better for the Giants than Hawkins was in '05. Tim had his best seasons in San Francisco at AT&T Park (aka SBC or Pac Bell Park) and I think he will once again be a solid set-up guy in the pen. Kline for Eyre is a drop-off based on last season's numbers, but Kline was the best left handed set-up man in the game in '04 and a return to the NL and re-teaming with Mike Matheny should get him back to his St. Louis form. Vizcaino will make his second stint in San Francisco this season and should be the teams main utility infielder, and also be the main pinch hitter vs. southpaws. Jamey Wright was invited to spring training last week and should be Brad Hennessy's main competetion for the 5th starters job.

Overall, the Giants had a very quiet offseason highlighted by the Morris signing and Brian Sabean's wedding. I think Giants fans will be pleasently surprised by Finley. He has a lot of pride in his game and knows he's coming off his worst year in his career. He wants to prove doubters that he can not only still play, but be a starter and contribute big. I am the most dissapointed with Sabeans willingness to hand Lance Niekro the first base job and expect Mark Sweeney to be his back-up. There is no telling when Niekro will go on the DL, but he almost certainly will. This guy has never put together a full, injury free season. Yes he hit 12 home runs last season in limited at bats, but his average vs. righties and his on base percentage did not lead me to believe this guy is ready to be a full time 500+ at bat player. There weren't many options out there first base wise, but one guy who was had very cheaply was Lyle Overbay. He is exactly what the Giants could have used at first. Sabean probably could have had him for a few mid level prospects. I think Giants fans may be calling for J.T. come May when Niekro's hurt or struggling, and Mark Sweeney is seeing healthy playing time. I hope I'm wrong, but I see no reason to make me believe otherwise at this point. Another name who was tossed around in the Giants front office was Bill Mueller. Mueller would have given the Giants a lot of options on who to use at first, but they where unable to get it done. There is still time for more roster moves between now and opening day, but I wouldn't look for anything drastic. Sabean is looking for a back-up catcher and Todd Greene just became available again, the Giants may have some interest there. Overall, because of the lack of attention given to first base, and the inability to land a solid back-up catcher, I give the Giants overall offseason grade a B-.
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