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12.10.2004

2005 Giants Pre-Preview: The Outfield 

I'm packing my bags for a long trip to a far-away place, but while I'm gone Elbo will run the Malo show. Last time I went on vacation during Hot Stove season, the Giants traded for A.J. Pierzynski.

This time, I don't think I can wait 'til I get home to catch up on hot stove news. With the signings of Finley (Angels) and Dye (White Sox), the Giants' pursuit of a power bat in the outfield is getting more tense. So tense, in fact, that Giants' management was a little snippier than usual when discussing Finley's snub:

"When you have as many people go out and tell a player how important he is to the franchise -- the owner, the manager, Sabes (Brian Sabean, the general manager) and myself, and you find out from a reporter that he's going to Anaheim ... Steve Finley has a right to make his own decisions and choose where to play, but this could have been handled in a more professional manner, " said assistant GM Ned Colletti in today's Chron.

And a snip more snippiness from the Nedster: "At least when Greg Maddux decided to go to the Cubs (instead of the Giants) last spring, (agent Scott) Boras had the decency to call you and talk to you and Greg Maddux did, too."

As I often like to sing, "Llorando...por tu amor."

There, there, Ned. Time will heal a broken heart, dearie. Come sit next to your Auntie Malo. It turned out for the best, I think. Nearly $20 million over two years for a 40-year-old guy not named Bonds? Better to spend $40 million over 4 years for J.D. Drew, if you're going to open the checkbook like that. I always knew that guy Finley was bad news for the Giants.

So, where does that leave the Giants in the outfield?

The incumbents

Barry Bonds
Age: Turns 41 on July 24
relevant stats
2004 innings played: 1130 (147 games)
career OPS: 1.054
2004 OPS: 1.452 (45 HRs, 27 doubles, 232 BBs)
2005 salary: $15 million (not incl. deferred payments)

Marquis Grissom
Age: Turns 38 on April 17
relevant stats
2004 innings played: 1219 (145 games)
career OPS: .736
2004 OPS: .773 (22 HRs, 26 doubles, 37 BBs)
2005 salary: $2.75 million

Michael Tucker
Age: Turns 34 on June 25
relevant stats
2004 innings played: 1006 (140 games)
career OPS: .769
2004 OPS: .765 (13 HRs, 21 doubles, 3 triples, 70 BBs)
2005 salary: $1.75 million

Dustan Mohr
Age: Turns 29 on June 19
relevant stats
2004 innings played: 628 (117 games)
career OPS: .754
2004 OPS: .831 (7 HRs, 20 doubles, 46 BBs)
2005 salary: $500,000 estimated

Free agent outfielders (partial list)
M. Ordonez, J. Gonzalez, Dellucci, Bautista, Drew, Alou, Beltran, Hidalgo.

In the minors
Ellison, Torcato, Linden, Valderrama

Comments

El Lefty

So much for Dye and Finley. At the reported prices, why bother? I maintain that younger, less risky options are out there if Sabean is willing to trade creatively. The Giants have the chips: Pierzynski. Torrealba. Feliz. Young pitchers. Even Marquis Grissom. (If the Yankees can get Felix Rodriguez for Kenny Lofton, the Giants could get value back for Grip, don't you think?)

If Sabean insists on the free agent route, my vote is to get Magglio Ordonez for a prove-you're-healthy deal with a relatively low base salary in 2005 and loaded with yummy incentives for playing time, all-star berths, and awards. Perhaps add a 2006 option that kicks in when he passes a certain # of at-bats or other yes-I'm-healthy milestones. Of course, that's in an ideal world. There's likely enough interest in Mags that a short deal won't hold water with him and his agent Scott Boras.

As Elbo notes below, the Giants still need a big bat and a good glove in the outfield, preferably owned by the same person. Beltran is the ultimate; J.D. Drew is close behind (when healthy). At the other end of the spectrum, there are rumors swirling about Dave Roberts or Scott Podsednik, neither of whom is very valuable as an everyday leadoff centerfielder. Podsednik was dreadful last year after a promising 2003. Roberts was a great pinch-runner for the Red Sox in the playoffs, but if he's not getting on base nearly 40% of the time, he's not worth playing every day, either. Both guys also have weak arms. If those guys are Plan B, I'd rather see Dustan Mohr get more playing time.

Elbo

The Giants wanted Finley so badly because he covers a lot of ground in center field, he has aged very well, and he managed to hit 36 homers, including 21 by the All-Star Break. Remember, the Giants have special outfield needs because of Barry’s age and tendency to take days off.

That’s why Dustan Mohr has emerged as a useful fourth outfielder, especially against lefties. Mohr came cheap this year, and won’t make seven figures in '05. He also outhit Tucker and Grissom and posted an OBP of .394, though he was used primarily in favorable situations. He showed plenty of ability in the outfield, though he made some equally memorable gaffes (a baserunning brainfart, an iron glove at an inopportune moment, etc.). I wonder about his clutch abilities (1 for 14 with the bases loaded, .692 OPS in close & late situations, .208 with RISP and 2 out), but overall Mohr has turned out to be a bargain.

If the Giants sign an outfield free agent, Tucker could conceivably be on the move. He’s due to make less than $2 million, which isn’t a dealbreaker. Then again, he’s not likely to produce any more than his usual fair-to-middling numbers, certainly below average for a big-league outfielder.

I’m not expecting much from Grip this year, and I never expected much from Tucker, but I’m somewhat resigned to seeing them roam Pac Bell’s green grass in 2005. I’m assuming that Beltran and Ordonez are impossible to get; I’d enjoy seeing David Dellucci’s lefty bat and often dazzling glove paired with Mohr in right; and I wouldn’t mind seeing some of our kids fight it out for the fifth-outfielder gig.

As for Barry, I’m pretty sure I wrongly predicted last year that he’d hit less than 40 homers and play less than 140 games. Lesson learned: don’t ever, ever underestimate that guy.


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