Giants fans want the team to back up the truck at AARP Park — pardon me, that’s AT&T Park — but it won’t be that easy. They can’t make a complete turnover to young players because they don’t have many ready in their farm system. And they need some veteran presence to aid what should be a big transition over the next two years.
One area they can change dramatically is the outfield. They absolutely should not re-sign Barry Bonds. It was a good idea to bring Bonds back this season because the Giants’ fans who had been so loyal to him deserved the chance to see Bonds break the career home run mark. His home runs have been a rare bit of excitement in an otherwise dismal season for the Giants.
But there is nothing to be gained by bringing him back next season. Bonds wants to get 3,000 hits, but all you need to know about that mark is that Paul Molitor and Craig Biggio have reached it but Babe Ruth and Ted Williams did not.
Though he’s still hitting home runs, Bonds is showing his age in the field these days. He made some nice catches earlier in the season, but his legs are obviously bothering him again. It’s possible he could play as a designated hitter for an American League team next year — if he agrees to a big pay cut — but he’d be better off retiring.
The other change the Giants should make in the outfield is replacing Dave Roberts, but that will be more difficult because Brian Sabean foolishly signed Roberts to a three-year, $17 million contract before this season.
Overpaying for mediocre players has been an ongoing problem during Sabean’s tenure. Nonetheless, he has a contract extension. Nothing succeeds like failure with the Giants.
Roberts is of value only for his ability to steal bases, a plus for a contending team. For the Giants, what it’s meant has been that when he’s stolen second this year, he’s usually just been stranded there.
And his defense ... well, let’s not even talk about that.
The Giants have better alternatives in younger players Rajai Davis and Fred Lewis. Davis has been especially impressive since he was obtained from Pittsburgh in the Matt Morris trade.
The Giants have another good young outfield prospect, Nate Schierholtz, who’s currently at Triple-A Fresno. (Daniel Ortmeier is a more typical Giants prospect; he is not a major-leaguer.)
Among Davis, Lewis and Schierholtz, two should be starting, with Randy Winn, a solid veteran, at the other outfield spot. It would no doubt mean eating a good part of his contract, but Roberts should be traded.
In the infield, the Giants should keep Ryan Klesko and Pedro Feliz at the corners. Omar Vizquel is a question mark. He’s as good as ever in the field, but his age has greatly diminished his hitting ability. But, of course, the Giants have nobody to replace him, so perhaps they should keep him for another year. Ray Durham is another contract problem because he’s got a year left, but they need to give Kevin Frandsen a legitimate opportunity to start. Bengie Molina is signed through 2009 and he’s a solid catcher.
The next couple of years won’t be pretty because the Giants have a lot of work to do, but they have to get started.
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