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12.19.2006

San Diego North - Updated 

As former Giants continue to flock south to join Ned Colletti in L.A., former Padres pass them heading north.

Ryan Klesko is now a Giant, prompting me to do that funny mouth sound people make when they pretend to enjoy tasting something in front of the person who cooked it. My ancestors had a word for it: Feh.

The big question: why sign a slow, defensively-challenged left-handed hitter who is confined to 1B and LF when the Giants already have Mark Sweeney?

One answer: he's better than Mark Sweeney. He was out all last year with a shoulder injury, but if he can return to his career averages (.372 OBP, .502 SLG) as an inexpensive part-timer, he would make Sweeney expendable.

The contract is for one year, but financial terms have not yet been disclosed.

There's another twist to this: as the wire story notes, Barry Bonds hasn't yet taken his physical. Could it be that Klesko is insurance in case Barry doesn't pass the test or his contract falls through for some other reason?

I'll come back as more details emerge, but here's the bottom line for now: if Klesko is cheap and healthy, a platoon of Klesko/Aurilia at first base isn't a bad short-term plan and could be nearly as productive as, say, $14 million worth of Pat Burrell or Richie Sexson.

***

Update: As of 4pm PT, still no word on how much the Giants will spend on Klesko. Pray it's no more than a couple of mil, the MLB equivalent of a few coins found next to an old toothbrush under the basement couch. Questions still abound:

* If Klesko plays a lot of 1B, whither Sweeney? Answer: Sweeney really shouldn't be a starting 1B, even in a platoon. He's played his entire career as a pinch-hitter, he signed with S.F. to be a pinch-hitter, and he got over-exposed last year. He should get 150-200 ABs a year, max.

* If Klesko plays the OF...? Answer: don't bet on it. If Linden plays the same game he showed last year, he'll sub for Bonds. On days Roberts sits against LHP (which he really should), Winn will slide to CF and Linden will play RF. Klesko no doubt will play LF once in a while, but it should only be when the Giants really really need more offense on their Barry-less days.

* But if Klesko plays a lot of 1B, won't that push Aurilia to 3B more often? You got a problem with that?

* Won't this guarantee even fewer at-bats for Kevin Frandsen? If you planned on seeing Frandsen as the main backup at 3B, probably. But he'll still be the primary backup at SS and 2B.

* What about Lance Niekro? I'm sorry, I didn't realize he had more than a snowflake's chance in hell to make the team.

Still, the roster now seems jammed up with slow corner infield types. Some may be trade bait, though newly signed free agents can't be traded for a while (til May?).

Here are a few potential lineups for Bochy to play with:

AGAINST RH STARTER:
Roberts CF
Vizquel SS
Klesko 1B
Bonds LF
Durham 2B
Winn RF
Aurilia/Feliz 3B
Molina C
p

AGAINST LH STARTER:
Winn CF
Vizquel SS
Aurilia 1B
Bonds LF
Durham 2B
Linden RF
Feliz 3B
Molina C
p

WHEN BONDS SITS AGAINST RH STARTER:
Roberts CF
Vizquel SS
Klesko 1B
Durham 2B
Winn RF
Linden LF
Aurilia/Feliz 3B
Molina C
p

WHEN BONDS SITS AGAINST LH STARTER:
Winn CF
Vizquel SS
Aurilia 1B
Durham 2B
Klesko LF
Linden RF
Feliz 3B
Molina C
p

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