Kevin Frandsen, SS, San Francisco Giants: Looks healthy which is the important thing after missing the season due to a torn achilles. Line drive bat, hits to the opposite field, hustles, won't have much home run power. Played shortstop down here and looked fine, can handle second base no problem defensively.Still, Sickels thinks Kevin is a 2B in full-time play.
- The biggest news, as Andy notes: Giants have interest in Rafael Furcal. This makes sense, much like how the acquisiton of Rowand made sense: add another strong vet to the mix. In Rowand's case, it allowed Schierholtz to gain another year of experience at AAA, and Lewis backed up Roberts really well, with Schierholtz as the second alternative had the need arise. In this case, this sets up SS, with Frandsen and Burriss fighting for 2B, and if both do well enough, Frandsen slides to 3B, with Sandoval sticking to 1B. Also, as Baggarly also notes, he would lead off, allowing us to bat Lewis in the middle (though I was envisioning Burriss in the leadoff spot). Plus we steal him from the D-gers, though they do have Ivan DeJesus and Chin-Lung Hu in the wings (however, DeJesus looks terrible in AFL according to Sickels and Hu didn't do well in majors last year).
And this works even if injury prone Furcal - he's 31 next year and has had two straight injury reduced years, particularly in 2008 - continues to be injury prone, as that would allow Burriss and/or Frandsen time at SS. However, this only really works if it is a two year deal with an option, because we cannot be saddled with a gimpy shortstop for big bucks for a long time. Particularly not into our prime period of 2010-2015 when we should have our best prospects productive and under our control. Perhaps the option can be tied to playing time in 2009-10, like Vizquel's was. He took a shorter deal with LA for more money so perhaps he might be willing to do that again.
If the Giants are already looking this SS route, if Furcal falls through, perhaps they might go after Adam Everett who plays great defense but might give that back offensively. However, that would be an upgrade on last year because the SS position only hit .228/.295/.281/.576 overall. Everett over the past three seasons had OPS of .642, .599, and .601 (career .653, but much done at Houston's hitter's park. Still, he'll be 32 next year and with declines offensively, could continue to decline. Plus, it appears he was injured twice during the season (and missed a lot of time in 2007 as well), so perhaps he's an injury risk today.
- Other names include Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins, but most probably not happening.
- Scott Eyre was mentioned, but apparently Eyre loves pitching for the Phillies and his home is close to their spring training complex. It'll probably come to who offers the bigger bucks again, which is how we lost him to Chicago last time.
- Bengie Molina rumors appear to be just that, nothing substantial. I would note here that I saw a headline that Pudge and Veritek will be hot commodities because of a short supply in the catcher's market, so the teams that lose out on them might decide to be more substantial with their offer for Molina in the future.
- Lastly, Andy speculates that Aaron Rowand could be in the mix in trade talks. The market for CF is strong as evidenced by the Brewers picking up Mike Cameron's $10M option, and the Yankees and ChiSox are shopping for CF (Rowand being a former ChiSox, and they pursued him strongly before the Giants got him). According to scouts that Baggarly spoke with, Rowand's defense has fallen so much that Randy Winn was actually better (and most reports I've heard is that he's poor in CF). Still, any trade would have to have a substantial return and the Giants would need to get another righty hitter to balance things out, particularly if Schierholtz is the new RF. Plus, he has limited trade protection.
- Oh, and Baggarly guesses that it's 75-25 that Cain remains a Giant. I would think it would have to be greater than that, because I don't think any team is going to be willing to shell out that much, I would expect to get much more than what the D-backs got for Haren, and only the Rays, I think, would be in a good enough position to trade off that many young good players for a Cain - yet they don't really need a Cain, they have Kazmir, Shields, Garza, and soon Price.
- Asked if Cain is untouchable, Sabean said, "Yes. Clubs know that. That hasn't necessarily discouraged clubs from inquiring or making suggestions of offers. But we don't see anything out there that gives us a net gain by losing him."
- So to get offensive help, he will try other ways, including free agency and trades for pitchers not named Cain, Lincecum, or Wilson. "We have a list of very definitive untouchables for various reasons. After that, if someone wants to get creative and we could find a way to do something, even if it takes more than one prospect, we're willing to do it."
- Sabean will be attending the Giants' ownership group meeting in SF tonight.
- Sabean has been told to conduct business as usual, despite the tumbling economy, with the priority of adding a couple of hitters - a corner infielder and middle infielder to complement Sandoval and Burriss in the infield and of rebuilding the bullpen around Wilson.
- Sabean noted, "You never know if someone might be interested. Having said that, we know what the competition's going to be. Make no mistake. It's a short list of quote, premium difference-makers. Very short."
- Also reports that Furcal's group "indicated the Giants are interested in the shortstop as a leadoff hitter."
- Basically Burriss will play either 2B or SS and Sandoval wil play either 1B or 3B.
- Sabean has not met many agents but is expected to. He was seen speaking to Craig Landis (former Giants prospect, FYI) who represents Bobby Howry (also a former Giants prospect). Sabean appears confident he can redo his bullpen through free agency.
- He also met with the agent company representing Dunn, Burrell, Hudseon, and CC Sabathia (and here it is affirmed that the Giants are not in the market for front-line starting pitchers).
- Sabean also noted that Frandsen has a shot at winning 2B starting job. He's currently playing SS because Burriss's knee is banged up.
- Also, they are still hopeful that Lowry will be in the Opening Day rotation (imagine how good we would have been in 2008 with a healthy Lowry manning a rotation spot instead of Correia/Misch/etc. That could have been at least a 10 game swing as those pitchers went a combined 3-13 in 29 starts; Lowry going 8-8 instead would but the Giants at 77-85, only 8 games under .500 vs. 18 games under .500).
- In addition, Kevin Pucetas could be in competition for the final rotation spot as well, which is surprising but a good surprise. But still surprising given the word after the season that the team would not rush players as they had in 2008, as Pucetas was only in Advanced A San Jose and, frankly, Tim Alderson outpitched him there. However, Kevin will be 24 next year and Alderson only 20, so with Bumgarner and Alderson probably only a season or two away from being in the majors, perhaps the Giants felt like they should take a good look at Pucetas now.