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7.17.2006

P's in a Pod 

Now that Lance Niekro and Jason Ellison have been banished to Fresno, replaced by Chad Santos and Todd Linden, it's more obvious than ever that the Giants need a right-handed power-hitting first baseman. Chad Santos hits lefty and cannot hit lefties. Mark Sweeney hits lefty and cannot hit lefties (2-for-28 this year, 11-for-63 since 2003). With that in mind, let's play a little "What's My Line?":

Player A

2006 stats (274 ABs)
.389 OBP / .529 SLG / .286 EqA

Career stats (3,339 ABs)
.361 OBP / .481 SLG / .286 EqA

Player B

2006 stats (233 ABs)
.348 OBP / .485 SLG / .278 EqA

Career stats (1,826 ABs)
.361 OBP / .487 SLG / .287 EqA

Remarkably similar, eh? Like (hint, hint) P's in a pod. Player A has been around longer. Player A is also making a schmazillion times more money than Player B. Both have first base experience, but it's either a distant memory (Player A) or cringeworthy (Player B). Player B is remarkably consistent year over year; Player A has had both excellent and terrible years.

If you haven't guessed by now, A is Philly left-phielder Pat Burrell, and B is Pirate outfield/first-baseman Craig Wilson. Wilson has been rumored as a target for many teams, which makes sense. He's cheap, he hits lefties with aplomb, he can play three positions (1B, LF, RF) and even catch in an emergency.

But I just heard ESPN's Jerry Crasnick say Burrell has "zero" trade value. I guess his contract -- $9.5 M this year, $13 M next year, and $14 M in 2008 -- is a deal-killer. If the Phillies are willing to pay a chunk of it, Burrell might be the answer for the Giants this year and in the near-future.

Here's why: For the 2006 home stretch, he's a potent RH bat, he can play first nearly full-time and sub for Bonds or Alou without any loss of power. He hits well at Mays Field -- especially this past weekend -- though not usually with tons of power (7 extra-base hits in 50 plate appearances since 2003).

Burrell can get mighty out-of-whack -- in 2003 he put up a .203 /.309 /.404 line -- but note even then he maintained a good walk rate. It seems he's been around forever, but he only turns 30 this year. The Giants would lock up through 2008 a legitimate power bat who's relatively young and healthy (only one season with fewer than 146 games played since his rookie year). Moving him to 1B long-term would be a plus for the team defense and reduce his injury risk, to boot.

Craig Wilson is a free agent after this year and likely to command $5-7 million a year for his next contract (he's making $3.5 M this year). He would likely be a two-month rental. If the Giants want to trade for a player who'll stick around past this winter, Burrell might be a better choice. If they're willing to absorb all the money owed to Burrell, the Giants may not have to send the Phils much talent in return.

Thoughts?

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