Tea Leaves 

My main man Elbo snuck into the live Q&A session the Giants held for season ticket holders last night and reports this classic Sabeanism: "If a pitcher like Barry Zito showed some interest in a team like the Giants, I'm sure we would show interest in him."

Other notes from the session:

* Sabean took exception to questions about Zito and one direct question about why the bullpen was so suspect.

* It took 45 minutes for anyone to mention Barry Bonds.

* Rich Aurilia, who was introduced to the audience along with Bengie Molina and Dave Roberts, seemed to think Feliz had 3rd base job sewn up and focused on the utility aspect of his career. Someone asked him where he'd been, and he laughed and said he'd been "lost somewhere in the Midwest the last couple of years."

* Nothing concrete about the roles of Kevin Frandsen and Todd Linden, but if you want to read tea leaves, please note that when someone mentioned Frandsen, everyone in the audience clapped. Bruce Bochy said Frandsen was "part of our ballclub." Linden was "an interesting player."

* Bochy also said that Matt Cain could be the opening day starter "based on what we have right now."

* Sabean pronounced Tim Lincecum's name with accent on the first syllable: "LIN-suh-cum," not "lin-SAY-cum." He said both Sanchez and Lincecum were attracting a lot of interest this winter and hinted either could be in the rotation during the year.

A final note: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports says the Giants "continue to discuss a deal" with Florida for Armando Benitez. "The Giants would pay a significant portion of the $7.6 million that Benitez is due in 2007. The teams are haggling over the player the Giants would receive in return..."

'T would be great news indeed, but I remain skeptical. Just recently Sabean cast doubt on the viability of Benitez's arthritic knees, so why would any team trade for him no matter how much of his salary the Giants paid? And why would Sabean make Benitez out to be less healthy than he really is? Some sort of reverse-psychology jujitsu? It doesn't add up.


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