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11.14.2006

Sub Rosa 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports:

"[Mark] DeRosa will be the Cubs' regular at second and occasionally fill in at other positions; he turned down a chance to be the Giants' starting third baseman to sign with the Cubs, according to a source with knowledge of his offers."

Good sign: The Giants were prepared to offer someone else besides Pedro Feliz a chance to be their everyday 3B.

Bad sign: Three years, $13 million for a utility guy with one good year. Wow.

And this morning, Hank Schulman of the Chron says the Giants were "taken aback" at the dollars and years Feliz's agent has proposed. Rich Aurilia is a prime candidate to replace him and maybe play a little first base. This would be nice and nostalgic, but don't expect too much out of Richie's bat at Mays Field. With his experience and versatility, however, Aurilia should be able to match DeRosa's contract, if not in length then in average dollars-per-year.

The Chron also reports that the Giants are hot and heavy after Juan Pierre to lead off and play CF. Pierre would provide lead-off patina, but scratch that surface and things don't look quite as fabulous. His career on-base percentage, the first and foremost measuring stick for a leadoff guy, is .350. Decent but not in the top echelon.

Worse, his OBP the past two years has been .326 and .330. It could be that teams have learned how to defend against him. He has almost no power, so they can squeeze the outfielders; bring in the third baseman to take away the bunt. His stolen bases -- a career 73% success rate -- are a nice addition, but it's hard to steal bases when you don't get on base very often. Last but not least, he is fast and gets to a lot of flyballs, but he has a terrible arm in CF. Presumably Pierre in center would push Winn to a corner, which would give them two terrible outfield arms. Make it three if Bonds re-signs. If Pierre were a stop-gap measure, OK, but he's likely to get three or four years at $8 million per.

Schulman says one source downplays the Giants' interest in Pierre. Let's hope that's accurate. But for the sake of pulling a lineup out of our behinds, let's also pretend Aurilia and Pierre sign. The lineup could look like this:

Pierre CF
Vizquel SS
Winn RF
Bonds LF
Aurilia 3B
Sweeney/Niekro 1B
Frandsen 2B
Alfonzo C

Two glaringly obvious points:

Aurilia cannot hit behind Bonds. No no no no no. Maybe against LHP, but otherwise no no no no no. But no one else in this lineup is even remotely qualified.

Second, a Sweeney/Niekro first-base combo still might happen if the Giants refuse to pay Getty-ransom money for Sean Casey's ear or some other mediocre option, or if they can't pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade for a Mark Teixiera type.

Wait, a third thing: Winn in the third slot. Terrible.

And where's the love for Todd Linden? He hasn't exactly earned it, but we could learn to love him over time -- sort of like a mail-order bride. In the Pierre-as-Giant universe, Linden becomes a fourth OF. With rumors pegging the Giants somewhere between very needy and embarrassingly desperate for a leadoff/CF type (Matthews Jr., Pierre, Roberts), Linden is all but assured fourth-OF status this year.

Assuming Bonds comes back, that is. And if he doesn't, folks, this team's offense is really in trouble.

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