Glenn Dickey: You call this a youth movement?

Now we know what the Giants meant by a youth movement: Anyone who isn’t on a walker.

With the top free agents signed elsewhere, the Giants are poised to sign Dave Roberts, who will be 35 in May, and Rich Aurilia,who reached that mark in September.

Be still, my heart.

Meanwhile, they’re negotiating with the Boston Red Sox for Manny Ramirez, who will turn the same magic age in May, in a trade. Don’t hold your breath. Ramirez can veto any trade. He’s already said he doesn’t want to play in the National League and why would he want to leave the perennially contending Red Sox for the rudderless Giants?

And what would the Giants offer in a trade? The Red Sox want (1) relief pitching; (2) a shortstop; or (3) prospects. The Giants are also looking for relief pitchers and they won’t surrender shortstop Omar Vizquel, the best player they currently have signed.

<p>Prospects? Hold your laughter, please. It’s not polite. Even the Giants don’t believe in their prospects. When they brought up Kevin Frandsen this year, they heralded him as the second coming of Robby Thompson. Now, they’re trying to sign free-agent second baseman Mark Loretta, who is — of course — 35.

Once, the Giants made a big splash in free agency. Before the deal to buy the club was even official, Peter Magowan signed Barry Bonds in the fall of 1992.

At 28, Bonds was on the brink of a great career and he served as the centerpiece for Giants teams up through 2004. Brian Sabean, who became general manager in 1997, filled in around him with some masterful trades, particularly those that brought Jeff Kent, J.T. Snow and Jason Schmidt to the team.

Sabean’s touch hasn’t been so sure in recent years, as he’s signed free-agent duds like Edgardo Alfonzo, Ray Durham and Armando Benitez.

Now, the Giants have painted themselves into a corner. They have so many holes to fill, they’re having trouble competing for the top free agents in an out-of-control market. They were never in the hunt for Alfonso Soriano, who got a ridiculous eight-year, $136 million contract from the Chicago Cubs. They were close with Carlos Lee and apparently willing to come up to the $100 million contract he was seeking. But Lee decided to negotiate only with Houston. A tip to the Giants: This is like bidding on a high-priced house. If you really want it, make your best offer first.

So, they’re signing second-tier free agents, like Roberts, Aurilia and, perhaps, Loretta. They will help, but they’re complementary players, not the type of players to build around. As a non-contender, which the Giants will be in 2007, they should be rebuilding with much younger players, but they’re still in denial.

The Giants are paying the price for their long neglect of their farm system.

They need to revamp the whole system, bringing in better people to run it and to manage and coach within it. A team can’t rebuild through free agency unless it has unlimited resources, which is not the case with the Giants.

They’ll have the All-Star Game to sell tickets and they still have a great ballpark. My advice to Giants fans: Enjoy the AT&T Park experience because the baseball isn’t going to be very good.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

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