As the Giants turn their focus to the 2010 season, here are the moves they should make — and those they will probably make:
SHOULD HAPPEN: General manager Brian Sabean should go. Sabean has created an unbalanced team, rich in pitching, deficient in hitting, and his overpayment of veterans has made it impossible for the Giants to sign the big power hitter they need. On this team alone, Sabean had four overpaid players: Aaron Rowand, Randy Winn, Edgar Renteria and Barry Zito. The Giants were also paying deferred money to Dave Roberts. Sabean made two panicky moves late in the season, getting second baseman Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Garko. He made a good move in signing Brad Penny, but it was hitting the Giants needed, not more pitching.
PROBABLY HAPPEN: According to reports, Sabean has already been given another contract that the club will formally announce next week, because the Giants surprised by getting into the wild-card race. He has courted Giants writers, who have supported him, and new managing general partner Bill Neukom doesn’t want to make a drastic change.
SHOULD HAPPEN: Manager Bruce Bochy has done a very good job with this team. He’ll probably get some Manager of the Year votes, though Colorado’s Jim Tracy will win that honor. The one area in which I fault Bochy has been his inability to instill some plate discipline in his hitters. Potential rallies were too often cut short by hitters swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. Pablo Sandoval can hit those pitches, but nobody else can, and Bochy should sit players who do that to emphasize that point.
PROBABLY HAPPEN: Bochy will be back and, again, reports indicate that the deal is already in place.
SHOULD HAPPEN: The Giants should cut their ties to Bengie Molina, painful as that will be. Molina is regarded by some as the best catcher in Giants history, though my vote would go to Tom Haller, but he is near the end of his career and the Giants need to make room for Buster Posey.
PROBABLY HAPPEN: The Giants will let him go, though Sabean will find it difficult not to give still another veteran a too-rich
SHOULD HAPPEN: The Giants should let Sanchez go. He was injured when he got here, suffered more injuries after he was here and went on the DL after surgery. He’s injury prone and playing a position where he’s vulnerable because he’s the middle man on
PROBABLY HAPPEN: Sabean won’t let Sanchez go after he traded a top pitching prospect for him. Picking up his $8.3 million option for 2010 would be suicidal, but giving him a contract for more than a year, which Sabean will do, won’t look any better down the road.
SHOULD HAPPEN: The Giants should work very hard to trade Zito, though they’d probably have to pay part of his contract. He pitched well in the second half of the season which might fool some club, but he’s taking up far too much of the payroll.
PROBABLY HAPPEN: Sabean isn’t deft enough to make this kind of trade, so the Giants are going to be stuck with that contract as Zito’s career goes downhill.
Without a Zito trade and with Sabean still around, the Giants won’t have either the financial or mental flexibility to improve in 2010, so what we’ll see next year is what we saw this year, close but no cigar.