Been missing my 2007 Team Outlooks? The Giants are next up. This would be a good place to give a shoutout to the premiere Giants blog out there, McCovey Chronicles. I definitely read up at this fine site before attempting my ’07 writeup. Another fine one: El Lefty Malo.
Brian Sabean’s contract obligations:
C – Eliezer Alfonzo – $0.33MM
2B – Kevin Frandsen – $0.33MM
SS – Omar Vizquel – $4MM
1B/OF – Mark Sweeney – $0.95MM
1B – Lance Niekro – $0.33MM
IF – Tomas de la Rosa – $0.33MM
CF – Randy Winn – $4MM
RF – Todd Linden – $0.33MM
OF – Fred Lewis – $0.33MM
OF – Jason Ellison – $0.33MM
SP – Matt Cain – $0.328MM
SP – Noah Lowry – $1.115MM
SP – Matt Morris – $9.5MM
SP – Jonathan Sanchez – $0.33MM
SP – Tim Lincecum – $0.33MM
RP – Armando Benitez – $7.6MM
RP – Tim Worrell – $2MM
RP – Vinny Chulk – $0.3485MM
RP – Brad Hennessey – $0.33MM
RP – Kevin Correia – $0.33MM
RP – Scott Munter – $0.334MM
RP – Jack Taschner – $0.33MM
RP – Brian Wilson – $0.33MM
RP – Billy Sadler – $0.33MM
SP – Jamey Wright – $0.3MM
CF – Steve Finley – $1MM
SP – Kirk Rueter – $1.28MM
RF – Moises Alou – $1.5MM
LF – Barry Bonds – $5MM
C – Mike Matheny – $2.25MM + $1.5MM deferred
Now, I’m not guaranteeing that this payroll estimate is spot-on. It’s an estimate based on what I could dig up. Fortunately, the deferred money comes out of a different budget and the Giants are planning for an $85MM payroll in 2007. That means they have around $38MM committed and $47MM to spend. That, my friends, is some serious cash.
The Giants will need all that money given their numerous holes. Let’s start at catcher. Mike Matheny has post-concussion syndrome, and the prognosis is not so good. That leaves Alfonzo as the starter if the season were to open today. Which would be weird given that it’s October 13th.
Alfonzo, who will be 28 next season, looked like the second coming of someone good from June 3rd to July 28th. He had a .911 OPS over those 35 games. In the next 45 games, however, Alfonzo posted a .654 OPS. Alfonzo didn’t hit at all in the high minors prior to his callup. If not for a 35 game fluke, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. The man is not a starting catcher on a good team. There are plenty of Sabean-ish options out there; take a look at the market. In addition, Johnny Estrada is available via trade.
The Giants pretty much have nothing going on at first base. Lance Niekro‘s had about a full season’s worth of ABs in the bigs and Triple A just hasn’t translated. He’ll be 28 next year. Which free agents could play first? Gary Sheffield, Sean Casey, Nomar Garciaparra, and Craig Wilson come to mind. Odds of Shea Hillenbrand returning look slim. Tradewise Sabean could chase Mark Teixeira, Todd Helton, Richie Sexson, Ty Wigginton, Tony Clark, or Ben Broussard. Sexson seems like an attainable slugger.
Do the Giants bring Ray Ray back after a career year at age 34? Perhaps if the terms of the deal are short enough. Otherwise, it’s probably Kevin Frandsen Time. Frandsen will be 25 next year and hit will in Triple A.
Third base is another problem assuming Pedro Feliz looks to cash in on his 98 ribbies. Are GMs dumb enough to give this man $5MM? This isn’t 1993 anymore. .244/.281/.428 is really bad from a corner or most other positions. Rich Aurilia played 52 games at the hot corner this season, and wouldn’t mind returning to San Fran for his age 35 season. This is a reasonable solution for the right price. Giants fans can entertain thoughts of A-Rod and A-Ram in the meantime.
On to the outfield. Might as well give Linden a shot in right; he looked pretty good this year. Winn is entrenched in center, though his .249/.296/.349 line after the break is worrisome. As for Mr. Bonds? Signs seem to be pointing toward his exit, but maybe all this talk is just posturing. If Bonds would come back for anything close to $10MM, I’d do it in a heartbeat. But I don’t sign the paychecks.
If Bonds leaves, all of this excess cash has to go somewhere. One could see Sabean entering the Soriano/Lee sweepstakes to replace him. He could hit the trade market for Adam Dunn, check out this OBP thing everyone’s been talking about. Manny Ramirez might be had, as well as Carl Crawford or Pat Burrell. I have to say, one surefire way to change the topic from Bonds would be a Manny trade.
I don’t think much needs to be done with the rotation. The Giants have some serious young studs and the requisite bearded innings eater. I don’t doubt Cain, but can Sanchez and Lincecum be above average as rookies? Can Lowry stay healthy and return to form? These kids won’t go deep into games, so Hennessey would get plenty of work. While I might leave the rotation alone, Sabean will probably pick up one guy. I can see a Gil Meche or Vicente Padilla or something. Who knows, maybe he’s saving his money for Daisuke Matsuzaka. Bonds attention diversion #2.
The bullpen isn’t looking impressive, but whatcha gonna do? Benitez and Worrell can’t be counted on, and the other guys are unproven/unimpressive. Like many teams with crappy bullpens, the Giants don’t have great free agent options. I know some would call this middle reliever free agent class deep, but it looks like a crapshoot to me. Maybe some guys like Kline or Stanton will be resigned. Closerwise you’re looking at Eric Gagne and even bigger question marks.
This offseason should be a fine test for Brian Sabean. He’s got tons of money and a host of vacancies. Will the team really get younger and healthier? Time will tell.