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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Giants Sign Juan Uribe

No, it's not earth-shattering news, in fact it's a move that doesn't really make much sense or significantly impact the team, but there is finally some movement on the Giants front to talk about. The Giants broke their month-long stretch of inactivity by signing infielder Juan Uribe to a minor league deal, according to SI.com. The Giants had been linked to Uribe earlier in the off-season as a possible fall-back option at shortstop, but after the signing of Edgar Renteria, it appeared the Uribe interest would go out the window. However, the Giants have been scouring the free-agent market for another utility player and apparently have settled on Uribe as an option. Now, Uribe isn't getting a major league deal, which means he's going to have to show up in Scottsdale and earn himself a roster spot. The 29 year-old brings the versatility to play 2nd and 3rd base in addition to shortstop. He's not a gold-glove caliber defender, but he's very serviceable at all three spots. He also would bring some power potential to the bench if he makes the squad. Uribe averaged 20 home runs a season from '04-'07, but his career OPS of .713 and some off-field issues are the reasons why he's having to settle for a minor league deal.

I'm not really too concerned with this signing for the simple fact it is a minor league deal and having a guy like Uribe in Fresno as insurance isn't a bad thing at all. Now that would change if Uribe ends up taking at-bats away from the younger infielders like Kevin Frandsen, Emmanuel Burris, Eugenio Velez or Travis Ishikawa, the players that need to be getting the looks. Also, the Uribe signing could mean the Giants won't bring back the popular Rich Aurilia, but there is still a possibility that they'll add another third or first basemen (Joe Crede worked out in AZ yesterday) who they would plan on having start.

The fear I have is that Uribe was signed in mind of having him battle for a starting job rather than an insurance policy, a lot like Jose Castillo was last spring before he ended up at third everyday. Burris, Frandsen and Velez should be battling it out for at-bats at second base and unless Uribe's spring blows the others away, he should stay behind those guys on the depth chart. Any playing time, or roster spot that Uribe receives must be earned. Sure, he has the power potential to lead the infield in home runs, but that doesn't help a whole lot if he's hitting .225 and getting on base at less then a %30 rate. If the plan is indeed to stash Uribe down in Fresno until needed then I have no qualms with this move and can actually see the logic in it. The Giants don't have many infielders outside of the guys who are going to be on the roster that are major league ready and could come up and take the place of an infielder if someone goes down.

Rumor Note: I'm not sure how seriously to take this one, but according to Ken Rosenthal, the Giants have shown interest in Bobby Abeu as a potential fall-back to Manny Ramirez. It's a little unclear why the Giants would have interest in Abreu as they are already set in the outfield and Abreu is on the backside of his career. Ramirez is a game changer and could potentially make the Giants legit contenders in the National League. Abreu is a complimentary player at this point in his career. Now Abreu isn't chopped liver by any means, and I do think his style of hitting would translate well at AT&T Park (he's not a pull happy power hitter). He's almost a sure thing to knock in 100 runs a year and steal around 20 bags while carrying a respectable average and hitting for some power. Not to mention, he could probably be had at bargain price as he'll apparently settle for a 1 year deal. Still though, he doesn't make a ton of sense for this team unless they have something up their sleeve. The only explanation I can come up with is that the Giants may have a plan with one of their current outfielders (Fred Lewis, Randy Winn?) as they could possibly package an outfielder and a pitcher for a young corner infielder, then replace the traded outfielder with Abreu. I highly doubt this rumor has any merit to it, but it's worthy of keeping an eye on.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

A Look At The Invitees

Rather than beat the Manny Ramirez rumors to death and continue to speculate as to who else the Giants will add between now and the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training, which is now just 3 weeks away, I was going to take a closer look at a few of the roster hopefuls. The Giants are bringing 16 non-roster players to camp and a few of them actually have a legit shot at making the team. I'm not going to go through every single one of the 16, but I have composed a list of the top-5 most likely invitees to make the opening day roster with a little blurb on what they could bring to the team if they make it. Keep in mind that Buster Posey and Connor Gillaspie are among the group of 16 going to Scottsdale, but in all reality, they don't really have a chance at making the squad out of spring, so I have not included them in the list.

3B Jesus Guzman: The 24 year-old has gotten a lot of attention from this blog over the winter as he is a pretty sound hitting prospect who is still in his younger 20's. Combined between Double-A Midland and the VWL in 2008, the kid hit .349 with 30 home runs and 155 RBI in 161 total games. Those are some ridiculous numbers, regardless of the level he was playing at. He has tremendous momentum heading into the spring and should have just as good a shot at making the team as the likes of Travis Ishikawa. He's still going to have to tear the cover off of the ball in the spring to win the everyday job, but he could end up being to the Giants what Jorge Cantu was to the Marlins last season and is certainly a guy who will have eyes on him this March. At the very least, he'll start in Fresno and be one of the fist call-ups of 2009, as soon as someone gets dinged up or starts slumping.

RHP Kevin Pucetas: Any chances of him becoming the fifth starter in '09 went out the window with the signing of Randy Johnson, but the '08 Cal League Pitcher of the Year winner could get a strong look as a long-reliever/spot starter this spring. The 24 year-old is 32-7 in 3 minor league seasons and has accomplished all he can in lower part of the system. Still hasn't pitched above A ball, but the Giants feel he has the composure and control to make the jump to the minors as early as this season. I expect him to start the year in AA Connecticut or AAA Fresno, but an injury to a starter or possibly a reliever, could put Pucetas on the 25-man roster out of the gate.

1B Josh Phelps: The Giants inked the journeyman first basemen early on in the off-season as soon as he became available, which tells me they like something about him. Phelps looked like a rising star after hitting .309 with 15 hr's and 58 RBI in only 257 at-bats as a rookie in '02, but has never been given a full-time job, at the big league level, since then. He has the ability to hit 20+ home runs in a season if given the proper number of at-bats and has put together some really good seasons at AAA over the last couple of years. He is a dark-horse candidate to start at first base this season if Ishikawa struggles and Sandoval manages fine at third. Phelps has been around for a while, but hes only 30, so it's not like he's washed up. Even in his short stints, he's put together some impressive numbers. In 77 at-bats with Pittsburgh in 2007, he hit 5 home runs with an amazing 19 RBI. He, like Guzman, could really end up being a steal for the Giants if he makes the team out of spring training and ends up contributing anything to the team. If he outplays Travis Ishikawa, he's probably go himself a roster spot.

RHP Justin Miller
: The 30 year-old Miller has actually pitched pretty well over the last 2 seasons with the Marlins. The journeymen reliever went 5-0 with a 3.65 era and 74 strikeouts compared to only 24 walks in 61 innings pitched. He also posted a 4.22 era in 47 innings pitched last season. Miller looks like a little more effective version of Tyler Walker and if the Giants had the same bunch down there as last year, Miller would likely get a look as a set-up man to Brian Wilson. If he throws well this spring, his track record could place him in the Giants bullpen. The only sure things as far as the Giants bullpen is considered are Wilson, Segio Romo, Bob Howry, Jack Taschner, Jeremy Affeldt and most likely Alex Hinshaw, (Merkin Valdez is expected to start on the DL) so there are still a few spots up for grabs.

RHP Brandon Medders
: The veteran reliever has pitched his whole career with Arizona and at one point when he was first brought up, people thought he was going to be the set-up man there for years to come. His first two seasons were solid as he posted era's of 1.78 and 3.64 from '05-'06, but over the last 2 seasons he has struggled and been bounced between AAA and the majors. At 28 years old though, he's still relatively young for a reliever and has the arm to improve. I think he'll start the year in Fresno, but could be among the first relievers called upon when needed.
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Jesus Guzman Wins VWL MVP

Ever since the Giants swooped up Jesus Guzman on a minor league deal at the beginning of the off-season, he's really been getting some attention. The 24 year-old third-basemen set records in the Venezuela Winter League this year and was just named the MVP of the 2008 VWL. This couldn't have come at a better time for Guzman who's employer is looking to find a long-term solution at third base. There are thoughts that Pablo Sandoval is best suited for third base and that's where he'll be come opening day, but the Giants have shown interest in guys like Joe Crede and Ty Wigginton which tells me they may have ideas for Sandoval at first. Guzman, however, is the dark horse in the situation and could make this all a non-issue if he shows up to camp and starts tearing the cover off of the ball like he did all winter long, and like he's done over his past 2 minor league campaigns. The youngster has really come into his own over the last couple of years and appears to have done all he can do in the minor leagues. Although the Giants will be taking a look at Joe Crede who will be in Arizona next week to go through a series of workouts for various teams, I'm doubting the Giants will end up with him, which in all likelihood would lead to them using an in-house candidate. Right now I'd say the competition for at-bats and possibly a roster spot is going to fall between Travis Ishikawa and Guzman. If Guzman is swinging a better bat, he'll be seeing time at third with Sandoval at first. If he doesn't make the team or struggles out of the gate, the Giants will likely roll with Sandy at the hot-corner and an Ishikawa/Travis Phelps combo at first.

Two big-named former Giants were in the news over this week as one has a new home and one has decided to stay at home. Former Giants' second basemen, all-star and MVP, Jeff Kent, announced his retirement on Thursday at Dodger Stadium in LA. Kent was loved when he was here and was arguably the most prolific hitting second basemen in baseball during his tenure in San Francisco. Kent was extremely clutch and never failed to post a 100 RBI season in his six years here. Sure, he was easily hated after he moved on and bad-mouthed the Giants ball-park, their uniforms and kind of took a shot at this city of San Francisco in general, but you can't say that you didn't root for him when he was wearing the orange and black. Kent admitted during his farewell speech that his best years ultimately came in San Francisco and that Dusty Baker had more of an impact on him than any other manager/coach. He also payed respect to Barry Bonds and J.T. Snow as guys who helped him become the player he was. I do think Jeff Kent is more than worthy for hall-of-fame consideration and when he does get enshrined, look for him to be wearing an SF hat on the plaque.

The other former Giant/future-hall-of-famer that was in the news was Omar Vizquel. The veteran shortstop signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers and will get a shot to win their starting job after they moved Michael Young to third base. Vizquel is another guy who had a nice run here, although his final 2 years didn't go terrifically. I really hope we get to see the magician play shortstop in this yard one more time before he hangs them up. He may not have the bat to carry an everyday job anymore, but your still going to have a tough time finding an infielder with the range and fluidity of Omar, even at age 42.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

3 Giants Headed For WBC

Three Giants will have the honor of playing in the WBC for their respective countries. Both Bengie Molina and Jonathon Sanchez will be battery mates for the Puerto Rican squad, and young Pablo Sandoval will be behind the plate for the Venezuelan squad. NL Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum was asked to play for the USA, but apparently has declined and will train with the Giants all spring. The WBC has gotten a lot of mixed reactions, but I am actually looking forward to it this time around. I am anxious to see what kind of talent is surfacing around the world. The big prize that came out of the WBC in '06 was Japan's former ace, Daisuke Matsuzaka and every team in baseball has a glimmer of hope at finding the next international sensation. To me, I see the WBC as a chance for the different parts of the world to display their talents and for this reason I have no problem with the tourney. Sure, It would make some more sense if it were held later on in the spring, but I think it's better for the players to have it in February/March than October/November which would seem like the only other logical option. I think it as a solid experience for the players, especially younger ones like Sanchez and Sandoval who haven't necessarily played under the bright-lights in that type of atmosphere yet.

The only problem thing that has me slightly worried about the Giants' bunch is that Pablo Sandoval will be catching for Venezuela instead of getting reps at first/third base which is were he'll be playing when the season opens. Sandoval isn't a polished infielder and he needs those extra spring reps in order to be ready to rock when the games start really counting. I'm hoping it won't be too big of an issue, but it is something to keep an eye on, especially if the strong Venezuelan team keeps advancing like they most likely will. Sure, Sandoval will still take grounders before games and work on it then, but there is nothing like in-game experience, especially for a guy who's moving out from behind the plate on a full-time basis, for the first time in his life. That said, I'm not overly concerned about it and the experience the youngster will get will likely trump the extra reps lost in the infield.

Note: The Giants agreed to terms with Jack Taschner on a 1-year deal, avoiding arbitration. After the signing of Jeremy Affeldt and the emergence of Alex Hinshaw last season, I thought that Taschner would be on his way out. Still, he will need to have a good spring to assure himself a spot as the Giants have an abundance of young arms that are moving closer and closer to the big leagues. I will go out on a limb and say that Tasch does not make the opening day roster.
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Giants Lineup Analysis

Things have been extremely quiet for the Giants since the calender turned to 2009 and without anything excitingly new to talk about, I figured I would go ahead and project out how the Giants roster will look come opening day with a little bit of player analysis in there. Instead of continuing to beat the rumor mill and the things that might happen, I wanted to go ahead and show what the Giants realistically should look like to start 2009. I am not planning on anything too earth shattering happening between now and opening day, but I do expect the Giants to add at least one more infielder and maybe another reliever to the mix. They have shown interest in Joe Crede and with Rich Aurilia now focusing on the Cubs, Crede or someone like Ty Wigginton could be picked up at any moment now.

Lineup
1. Randy Winn RF (Back in the lead-off role, the steady Winn is likely in his final year in SF)
2. Edgar Renteria SS (Giants hope he's got another couple of '06-'07 seasons left in the tank)
3. Pablo Sandoval 1B (All scouts are saying this guy is the real deal and I concur, expect .300+ average with slightly above average power and solid run production)
4. Bengie Molina C (Back in the cleanup spot by default, has been one of the best FA signings by the Giants this decade)
5. Fred Lewis LF (Assuming the G's don't sign ManRam, FLew will look to build off a successful '08 campaign)
6. Aaron Rowand CF (Moving down in the lineup should take pressure off, must be better in '09)
7. *Joe Crede 3B* ( Giants interested and could be a steal if he can revert back to '06 form, tough to count on though... Ty Wigginton could be an option here too)
8. Kevin Frandsen 2B (I think Burris will be playing everyday at SS in Fresno leaving Frandsen his opportunity. Velez will get a look as well)

Starting Rotation
1. Tim Lincecum RHP (Looking to start campaigning for Cy #2, probably the NL's best hurler at this point)
2. Randy Johnson LHP (The Big Unit will be a treasure for the young pitchers, and should continue being a nightmare for opposing hitters, especially at AT&T Park)
3. Matt Cain RHP (I'm looking for Matty to take that next step this year in regards to his consistency)
4. Jonathan Sanchez LHP (Left-handed power pitcher came into his own last year, must prove himself for the full 6 month season this time around)
5. Barry Zito LHP (OK, maybe this year he gets it right? He did pitch better in the 2nd half last season, but still underachieving)

Bullpen
RHP Brian Wilson (After 4 years of searching and using the likes of Tyler Walker, Matt Herges and Armando Benitez, the Giants finally have a legit closer)
LHP Jeramy Affeldt (One of the better LH relievers in the game and is just coming into his own. Very solid signing by Sabean)
RHP Sergio Romo (Howry could be the main RH set-up man, but Romo has the upside to be a dominant one)
RHP Bob Howry (Should provide veteran stability, but best days are clearly behind him)
LHP Jack Taschner (Could battle Hinshaw for a spot in the pen, but if Merkin Valdez isn't ready to go, both should make it)
LHP Alex Hinshaw (Had a nice debut in 2008, but as a reliever, needs to be around the strike zone more often)
RHP Keichi Yabu (He was a pleasant surprise in 2008 as he was one of the more consistent arms coming out of the pen, still will have to battle to make the team though)

Bench
1B Travis Ishikawa (Could get a strong look if the Giants don't add another infielder or someone gets hurt)
IF/OF Eugenio Velez (The speedster will provide value off the bench, especially if he plays more like he did last September)
OF Dave Roberts (Roberts will likely be the 4th outfielder, even though Schierholtz should be getting those at-bats)
OF Nate Schierholtz (Nothing left to prove in the minors and '09 season should be audition to see if he's ready for RF with Winn is in his final contract year)
C Todd Jennings (Sandoval is probably going to be back there when Molina isn't but Jennings will get his chance at a roster spot this year)

Disabled List/Question Marks

RHP Merkin Valdez
(The young righty was dominant when healthy last year, but that was only for about a month and he just had surgery a few weeks ago so his status is uncertain)
LHP Noah Lowry (Outside shot he's ready to start the season, which would provide the Giants with an abundance of pitching and likely lead to trading one of them)
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Monday, January 12, 2009

Still Plenty of Possibilities For SF

We are roughly a month away from the start of spring training and normally at this time, every free agent that is worth anything has been signed by a team and is planning their trip for either Florida or Arizona for the spring.

This winter has been different, due largely in part to the depressed economy. However, the Giants have been amongst the most active and discussed teams out there. The Manny Ramirez rumors refuse to die, as the latest one has the Giants offering him a 1 year deal with 3 option years that could ultimately end up being a 4 year, 100 million dollar deal. If they could swing a deal like that it would actually make a lot of sense. It would give Manny the incentive to go %100 year in and year out in order to pick up his 25 million dollar option while giving the team freedom to let him go at any time. That being said, I still don't see Manny in San Francisco, and unless it's the absolute perfect deal, and they are able to unload Aaron Rowand in the process, then it doesn't make much sense in the long run. Even if the Giants don't get Manny though, there is still a handful of guys out there that could really help this team. One potential trading partner has surfaced in the New York Yankees. Apparently the Yank's are shopping Xavier Nady and he could be a fit a first for the Giants. Only problem there is that Nady hasn't played much first base in his big league career, and while his right handed power would be a welcome addition, he's a free agent after the year and is a Boras client. So, if the Giants didn't have to give the Yankees much for him, then sure, but if they want a young starting pitcher, then no.

Another free agent who is surprisingly still lingering on the market, and one the Giants expressed interest in earlier in the off-season, is Orlando Hudson. At that time Hudson was seeking a 4 year deal in the neighborhood of $45 million, but it looks like he'd now be lucky to get half of that. Hudson has his limitations, no doubt. His splits over the last 3 years show that he's clearly more comfortable hitting in Arizona than he is anywhere else. He only hit two home run's in over 220 at-bats on the road last year while carrying an OPS of just .713. This is probably why he is still looking for work. However, the O-Dog is one of the best defensive second basemen in baseball, and having him at second and Renteria at short could give this young pitching staff a huge sense of security. I also think that he would adapt to hitting in whatever park he ends up in, whether it be a pitchers yard like AT&T Park, or another hitters paradise like the BOB. His power numbers would certainly take a hit, but his extra-base hit totals shouldn't be effected too much and I see him as a pretty solid bet to be around .300 average wise with an .800 OPS. It was clear in Arizona how important he was to the team, as they really suffered when Hudson was shelved for over a month's worth of time for injuries. He is not a great hitter, but a solid one, and a great defender. At 31, he's not necessarily a spring chicken, but in this market, something like a 2-year, 15 million dollar deal would be very reasonable and seems possible.

I also think the Giants envision Manny Burriss as the heir apparent to Renteria at short, so they may want him playing everyday in Fresno there this season instead of platooning at second with Kevin Frandsen and Eugenio Velez. And while Hudson isn't really the power bat the Giants need, he'd still be solid addition to the lineup, not to mention the runs he'd save in the field. I'm not saying Sabean should focus on Hudson, but he should certainly monitor the situation as only the Washington Nationals have shown sincere interest.
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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Giants Should Move Past Manny

There was an article published on both the Giants and Dodgers team pages that said both teams could back off their pursuit of Manny Ramirez. The Giants were more so following the market and haven't presented a formal offer for Manny. The Dodgers are most likely bidding against themselves at this point for his services as I highly doubt that Brian Sabean is going to continue monitoring this situation while there is other work to be done before Spring Training. The Giants still must add another infielder to the mix and hopefully that doesn't end up being Rich Aurilia. I still like the possibility of Ty Wigginton, as I have kind of pushed to sign the guy all winter long. He is a lot more productive at this point that Rich Aurilia is and he actually could force Bruce Bochy to play him eveyday when he gets on his hot streaks. Joe Crede has also been mentioned as a possibility for the Giants, but apparently his back is too much of a concern to warrant much of a contract and unfortunately his agent is Scott Boras who always begs to differ. Anyway, as things wind down this winter, it looks as if the Giants are pretty much done with their work this winter. We're only about 6 weeks from the first full squad workout of the spring and a little over a month away from seeing pitchers and catchers starting to scatter into Scottsdale Arizona for the spring so Sabean's full focus should be on fine tuning this team in anyway possible, not shooting for the stars on Manny Ramirez, who isn't a good fit here and probably has no real interest playing for San Francisco.

I also wanted to talk a little bit about the contract that Pat Burrell just got from Tampa Bay. Burrell grew up in the bay area and a lot of people thought he'd be a good fit in San Francisco if they could transport him to first base. I don't think Burrell really wanted to move to first initially, but now he's in the AL where he'll be at DH on most nights. He signed with the Rays for 2 years and 16 million dollars. That's cheaper than what the Giants just got Edgar Renteria. knew the market was falling for the free-agents not named Tex and C.C., but 8 million a year for a sure thing 30 home run, 100 walk per season guy would be a risk worth taking. Again, I'm not sure that Burrell was a real possibility, as the cold weather and spacious yard have scarred away the hitters on the free agent market, but he's the kind of guy this lineup needs and if he could have been at least serviceable at first (they could have used Ishikawa as the late inning defensive replacement) then he would have been worth a shot. The Giants have Winn coming off the books next season so if Burrell didn't work so nicely at first in '09, he could be moved back to the outfield in 2010. I don't know, I could have seen some logic in that move. The same can be said for Adam Dunn. With his value dropping so significantly. Why not entice him with the idea of playing first for a year then maybe moving back to the outfield if things don't go so well? They need the offense so it would be worth the mediocre defense he'd provide.
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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Giants Continue Shopping For A Bat

Amidst all the talk and rumors, I don't think the Giants will end up with Manny. However, seeing that Sabean is looking into other options via free agency, maybe he settles on an Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell. Though I do hope I'm wrong, as neither of those guys are near the difference maker Manny is and both would want longer-term contracts than what ManRam will get. It obviously appears as if the Giants wouldn't mind adding another outfielder and they may have something up their sleeve (trade wise) if they do. I guess Dunn wouldn't be so bad if he came on a 2-3 year deal do to the depressed market, but I just don't see him wanting to come here as this park isn't the most attractive to left-handed power hitters. Burrell though, would be nothing more than a slower, more powerful but a less batting average version of Aaron Rowand. No thanks! At least Dunn will probably somehow manage to still pull off 35-40 home run seasons, even playing for SF. Barry Bonds did it, and Dunn has that kind of pop. Even Ray Durham managed a career-high 26 home runs in a season while taking most of his at-bats from the left side of the plate at AT&T Park. But again, doubt he would want to come here on a discounted deal over other places that might offer a more lucrative hitters park. Whatever does go down, I hope it doesn't cost Fred Lewis his spot on in the starting lineup or on the team. I like Lewis' upside and I want to see him play everyday somewhere. He showed so much improvement last year that I can't wait to see what he does this time around. I see him as fitting the same mold as Cleveland's Grady Sizemore. Lewis doesn't quite have the power that Sizemore has, but can hit for average, power and has the ability to get on base consistently and steal bases while hitting at the top of the order. (15-18 home runs, .290+ average, 25-35 steals per season with an .800+ OPS would be about what I expect from him if given 500 at-bats per year).

Speaking of the slow free agent market, we are almost a week into the new year and amazingly there is still a load of high profile free agents left on the market. I figured that I would go ahead and take my best guess at where the elite eight will end up:

1. Manny Ramirez: Dodgers (Giants have a shot too, but I think the mercurial Manny goes back to LA, especially after they cut ties with Andruw Jones)
2. Adam Dunn: Nationals (They missed out on Tex and may now turn to Dunn to help out Zimmerman in the middle of the order)
3. Ben Sheets: Rangers (Texas always needs starting pitching and Sheets could be the best they've had in a while)
4. Orlando Hudson: Braves (Market not there for O-Dog, could end up with the Braves, who could then move Kelly Johnson back to left-field)
5. Derek Lowe: Mets (Seems like the Mets are the most serious about the 2nd best remaining FA starting pitcher, even though discussions haven't been fruitful thus far)
6. Pat Burrell: Angels (After missing out on Tex, the Angels could look to Burrell as the consolation and use him at DH in addition to left)
7. Bob Abreu: Mets (Mets need another outfielder and the solid Abreu could land on their laps. Also could end up with an LA team if the Giants or someone else land Ramirez)
8. Oliver Perez: Dodgers (The Dodgers need pitching badly after losing Lowe and Penny, could now turn to Perez to help fill one of the spots)
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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Take Manny Rumors With a Grain of Salt

First off, I wanted to wish everyone visiting a Happy New Year, as we say goodbye to 2008 and hello to 2009. Now, since the holidays are all over with, I would expect to see Sabean start putting some final touches on the team as they get ready to break for Arizona in the middle of next month. One thing that I highly doubt seeing happen between now and then though is to see the Giants sign Manny Ramirez. ManRam has kind of been under the radar this offseason as most of the attention has gone to the younger players, Mark Texeira and C.C. Sabathia. However, now that those two players are off limits, Ramirez now becomes the new jewel of the free agent class and some people (or at least some people in Denver at the Post where this story broke) now predict that the Giants have just as good a shot, if not better, than anyone at landing the mercurial left fielder. Now, I'm not saying I doubt it would happen because I don't want to see it. Manny would be just what the doctor ordered for this team. Not only would fill up the ballpark, he'd give them an offensive weapon they haven't had since Barry Bonds was last himself, in the 2004 season. He's also in a market which is pushing him to take a 2-3 year deal and if the Giants could get Manny for only 2 seasons, that could make a lot of sense. I think he's still going to be a top hitter for another couple of years and he's better in left than a lot of people give him credit for being.

Now, that being said, I still highly doubt there is any real shot that he lands in San Francisco. Manny right now makes more sense in the AL and you just have to believe that somewhere, there will be some AL or desperate NL team that jumps in at the final second and gives him his wanted (4 year deal). I think Boras brought the Giants name up in effort to raise the bidding war for ManRam's services. Also, if the Giants were to obtain Ramirez, it would essentially ruin their plan of building for the future. It would likely cost 28 year-old Fred Lewis (who some see as a rising star) his job and force Sabean into trying to build around another aging veteran who won't be around in a couple more seasons, a lot like he did towards the end of Barry Bonds career and the sole reason why the Giants have been so bad over the last 3 seasons. Now, again, not saying Ramirez in left wouldn't be a welcome sight for the weak offensive team like the Giants, I just don't think it's a real possibility and like the C.C. Sabtathia rumors, I hope this doesn't grow into some sort of "the Giants were supposed to get Manny" once he signs somewhere else. Something tells me Sabean isn't even talking to Boras right now and if he is, it's about Joe Crede and not Manny Ramirez. Sorry Giants fans, I know it would be nice to think about, but do you really envision another, bigger than the team left fielder coming aboard so soon? I just can't.
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