"Pay Attention, '007" 

First, a few small-print updates:

* At the request of a few readers, I've signed up to syndicate my feed. Or maybe feed my syndicate. Whatever it is, if you have RSS thingamabob stuff, you can sign up for Lefty Updates over on the right. Just click the link under "Syndication." If I've not done it correctly, please let me know.

* Now listening to Curtis Fuller's New Trombone. If one of your favorite musical moments is the intro to Coltrane's "Blue Train" with the trombone harmony -- that's Curtis Fuller. Check out Fuller's 1957 debut for a similar band size, instrumentation and sound -- though I'd argue New Trombone at moments bests Blue Train with warmer, fuller grooves, and a more cohesive sound. Maybe it's the remastering.

* Now reading In Cold Blood. Never read it before, amazingly enough. The movie Capote with Philip Seymour Hoffman, which I had mixed feelings about, is more or less "Behind the Scenes of In Cold Blood." I figure it's time to actually read the book, which changed the way America approached journalism, for better or worse. Capote laid the groundwork for the first-person creative nonfiction of Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson.

And now for something completely different...a man talking out of his ass about the 2007 Giant outfield:

The Fonzie-for-Finley trade probably means one Giants' farmhand only will make the '06 opening day roster. My guess, proferred yesterday, is that Todd Linden has the upper hand. But if he bombs in spring training and either Dan Ortmeier or Jason Ellison shines, we may see one of them.

So what can we expect in the Mays OutField in 2007?

Let's assume a few things: Bonds, Alou and Finley are no longer with the Giants. Bonds will either retire or go to the American League to DH; ditto for Alou. If Finley proves healthy and plays better than last year, he'll probably attract some interest, but not at $7 M. (There are also whispers the Giants may trade Finley this winter -- stay tuned.) Randy Winn is the most likely to extend his contract with S.F., but I won't make any predictions as to dollars or length.

As of this writing, the Giants have $34 million committed to six players in 2007: Benitez, Matheny, Morris, Sweeney, Vizquel, Worrell. That figure includes deferred salary (Alou, Bonds) and buyouts (Finley). I believe Noah Lowry will be the only youngster up for arbitration, so add a handful of other players to the roster, including Matt Cain, with minimal fiscal impact.

If Randy Winn performs well out of the gate in '06, I'll bet he's signed to an extension for '07. At least one spot will go to a youngster: Linden, if he turns things around, or perhaps Ortmeier. From the next minor-league wave, Eddie Martinez-Esteve, who's slated to start next year in double-A, could rise quickly although his defense is considered woeful. Fred Lewis is another talented but puzzling farm boy. He had a schizophrenic '05 in double-A, first half terrible, second half excellent, but there's a very outside shot he could be the Giants' leadoff guy in '07.

Will the Giants target a post-Bonds superstar to anchor the '07 outfield? There could always be a trade for someone like Bobby Abreu, but beyond Cain, the farm system is thin in upper-level, can't-miss prospects, the kind teams usually want in exchange for superstars.

How about signing one when Barry leaves? Not so much. The list of post-'06 free agents doesn't have any outfielder who screams "I'm the answer to all your problems!" (Unless your big problem is not enough guys with doubled-up vowels in their names.)

This is rank speculation, but I wouldn't be surprised if the '07 outfield has Randy Winn, either Todd Linden or Ortmeier (or both), and another farm kid. Or a second-tier free agent a la Jose Guillen. Best-case scenario is if Linden becomes Jose Guillen by then, a 20-25 home run/.800+ OPS guy with solid corner defense.

The big question: will the Giants tear it down post-Barry and spend '07 evaluating the farm lads? It wouldn't be the worst thing, but it's not easy to do. Cleveland is the best example of a tear-down and fairly quick turnaround. No doubt, though, the Giants would prefer the Atlanta Braves model of slotting in a youngster or two every year and winning the division. How nice.

A final note: Dayn Perry has a great column on Fox Sports on the State Department's refusal to let Cuba play in next spring's World Baseball Classic.


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