With Christmas about a week away and Major League Baseball's winter meetings in the rearview mirror, it's a perfect time to see what juicy acquisitions might be possible for your favorite baseball team.
For the San Francisco Giants, that means offense, offense, and more offense.
Preferably a corner infielder, corner outfielder, and/or a catcher to replace the outgoing Bengie Molina.
As large a hole as Big Money leaves in the lineup, the actual destruction wrought by his departure from the clubhouse will be the real story heading into 2010. The Gents may or may not be able to replace his bat. They will NOT be able to replace Molina's steadying presence, not completely, and how the squad adjusts in the new year will be key.
Consequently, you can argue that grabbing a shiny new impact player is all the more of an imperative for Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy (not that the latter has any control).
Unfortunately, a quick glimpse at the free agent market tells you why there's been so much activity (and even more negotiation) on the trade front. "Thin" doesn't even begin to describe the situation, especially for clubs like los Gigantes who don't have a pressing need in either the rotation or the bullpen.
Christian Bale in "The Machinist" would be nearer to the mark...and still fall short.
Everyone knows that Matt Holliday and Jason Bay are Nos. 1a and 1b.
But Holliday is a Scott Boras client, which gives him a considerable stench, and all reports indicate Bay can't patrol wide open spaces very well. Both warts seem to have given Sabean and company reason for pause, and rightfully so.
Matt Holliday is a wonderful baseball player and a valuable splinter. But I have no appetite for Boras no matter how delicious the side dish.
It appears general managers might be operating under the same constraint—Sabes was not-so-subtly hostile when referencing the super-agent and the Anaheim Angels openly denied any interest in dealing with him while a premium contract was on the table.
Jason Bay is no more attractive because AT&T Park's left field is faaaaaar too expansive and treacherous for a questionable glove. Unless, obviously, you're hitting .350 with 40 home runs and a .500 on-base percentage.
That guy is officially done and Bay—fine ballplayer though he is—would not be a close approximation.
Some whispers have San Franciso's fin in the water around the longtime Pittsburgh Pirate, but he figures to get a fat deal for his efforts. With Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and possibly Jonathan Sanchez blossoming into can't-lose-to-the-market studs, burning the money on a less-than-ideal raker sounds foolish to me.
So take the top pair of bombers off the board. Now look at what's left .
Neither John Lackey, Joel Pineiro, Aroldis Chapman (the Cuban phenom), nor Noel Arguelles (the other Cuban defector) has a spot on the current Giant roster. Not unless Bill Neukom and Sabean want a fan revolt on their hands.
No pitcher does.
Although you can force either of the top second basemen—Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez—into Orange and Black by moving Freddy Sanchez to third base, that doesn't make sense. Why risk throwing Sanchez off his game by asking him to play a relatively unfamiliar position and rebound from offseason surgery?
That idea looks all kinds of bad.
Ultimately, San Francisco's best option via free agency must be pulled from a group that includes Nick Johnson, Miguel Tejada (who is shifting to the hot corner with age), Johnny Damon and Adrian Beltre (two more from Boras' stable), Jermaine Dye, and some other equally exciting players.
When the candidates are that incredible, Giant fans just have to thank our lucky stars the rest of the National League West is regressing.
The Los Angeles Dodgers seem to be imploding as the McCourt divorce gorges on all the positive energy from the club's postseason ride. The Arizona Diamondbacks traded away two scintillating young arms for exactly zero bats. Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres insanely appear to be trying to move Adrian Gonzalez after parting with Jake Peavy last season.
Only the Colorado Rockies have been treading water thus far.
Nevertheless, the club must add some firepower and, if it's done via the open market, Nick Johnson looks like the best fit.
Which means the San Francisco Giants might be joining the trade parade very soon.