The free-agency filing period began Monday, and some of the big name players wasted no time breaking away from their former teams. Aramis Ramirez, Alphonso Soriano and Carlos Lee head this winters list of top available hitters. The pitching market is very thin, with Barry Zito, former Japanese team ace Daisuke Matzuzika and Jason Schmidt among the top available starting pitchers. One of the many interesting things to watch for this winter is how Brian Sabean adresses the bullpen and especially the closer situation. The only two closers on this years market who may fit with the Giants are Joe Borowski and Eddie Guardado. Borowski is coming of a solid season as the Marlis closer after a few injurey plauged seasons with the Cubs and Devil Rays. Guardado has great credentials, but he had a huge fall-off in production last season and he is getting up there in age as well. The Giants have made it pretty clear that they are going to try to unload Benitez this winter, and there already has been one team mentioned as a possible home for Benitez. Philadelphia Phillies manager has gone on record saying he would welcome a healthy Benitez, and the Phillies have Pat Burrell as bait who they are apparantly as eager to ditch him as the Giants are Benitez. Burrell said this week he would welcome a trade to the Giants and would even pick up a first base glove if need be. The contracts don't even out, but the Phillies would likely eat some of Burrell's contract to even things out a bit. Burrell doesn't quite fit with what the Giants are trying to mold their team into, but he would bring 30+ home run power, has a respectable on-base percentage and only just turned 30. The Giants aren't going to get an all-star or a top 2 or 3 prospect for Benitez, so they are going to have to take what they can get, or go through another season with an 8 million dollar diaster in the bullpen anchoring down the bullpen and payroll.
As far as rumors regarding free agents go, the Giants have already been linked to a few.
Apparantly Brian Sabean has already had discussions with the agents for Luis Gonzalez, Gary Mathews Jr., Nomar Garciapara, Dave Roberts and Geoff Blum. Mathews Jr. appears to be at the top of their list as the all-star had a breakout year last season offensively and defensively. I wouldn't be opposed to Mathews just because his great defense, and that is an area which the Giants need to improve on, but I can't help thinking we'd be signing another Randy Winn for even more money. If you compare Winn and Mathews Jr., they are earily similar with the only difference being that Mathews is a gold glove outfielder. Sabean needs to be careful and not overpay for a one year wonder. The two names that I was surprised to see were Garciapara and
Gonzalaz. Both these guys are way past their primes and are very injury prone. I could see Gonzo filling the gap in left field for a year if Barry Bonds decides to go to the American League as next years free agent class is loaded with outfielders. Gonzalez is still productive with the bat, and would cost 1/3 of what Bonds' is going to command, but the prospect of a Gonzalez-Mathews-Winn outfield doesn't really excite me at all. I'd much rather take the money they are going to put into two average players, and go get one star such as a Soriano or Ramirez. To me, Ramirez and Soriano should head the Giants free-agent list, and they should make it there goal to come out with one of those players this winter. It just makes so much more sense to me to invest in Aramis Ramirez for 4 years rather then Garciapara and Gonzalez at about the same price.