In rebuilding their team, the Giants should play to their strengths and put together a younger team with good pitching, good defense and line-drive hitters.
Just don’t look for a quick fix. It certainly won’t happen this year and we’re realistically looking three years down the road.
The Giants’ main problem is that the type of player they need — a young position player with a good upside — is exactly the type of player other teams want to keep. One example: New York Mets outfielder Lastings Milledge has been mentioned several times as trade bait the last two years, but the Mets still have him. With the escalation of team payrolls, every team but the New York Yankees want young players with low salaries to help balance the budget.
The Giants’ other problem is that their only real trading chip is Matt Morris, whose value has dropped with subpar outings most recently. The Seattle Mariners could use Matt Morris in their rotation, but they won’t give up the player the Giants could really use, outfielder Wladimir Balentien, who is hitting .310 with 22 homers and 71 RBIs in 99 games in Triple-A Tacoma. The Giants have been talking to the Boston Red Sox, but now that they have Jon Lester back in their rotation, their need for starting pitching isn’t so great.
The Giants certainly won’t trade young phenoms Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain and it’s highly doubtful they’d trade Noah Lowry, a solid middle-of-the-rotation pitcher who is three years away from free agency.
Many of their players are ones who aroused little interest in other clubs when they were free agents. Why would clubs now want to trade for them and give up prospects?
Aging veterans Ryan Klesko, Rich Aurilia and Mark Sweeney have no trade value. And I wish they’d unload Ray Durham and give Kevin Frandsen a shot at second base, but Durham won’t bring anything, either. They should stick Dave Roberts on the bench and play one of their rookies, Fred Lewis or Nate Schierholtz (now at Fresno) in center, but they won’t, because they overpaid (naturally) for Roberts.
The only attractive position player is Randy Winn, a solid player who’s having a good year, but he’s not a player who would make a big difference for another team. At 40, Omar Vizquel still has his defensive magic, but he’s lost bat speed. He should retire after this season and wait for his selection to the Hall of Fame.
The park they play in should figure heavily in the Giants’ decisions in the next couple of years.
AT&T Park is a difficult one for power hitters, especially left-handed ones not named Barry Bonds. Years ago, the Giants tried to trade for Todd Helton, but Helton refused to allow the trade. Now, right-handed sluggers are shying away, too. Both Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee went to much more hitter-friendly parks.
So, both in free agency and building up their farm system, the Giants should look for good contact hitters. They have the cornerstone of a strong pitching staff, but they need much better defense. Offensively, they’ll need to play more of the classic National League style, with the stolen base and hit-and-run.
And fans will have to be patient. It took the Giants years to get into this mess. It will take just as long to get out of it.
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