The bullpen, the bullpen, a bat. The Giants, it seems, are fooling no one except themselves. Desperate to capitalize on the inclusion of Barry Bonds in their ranks, the team needs to make moves to bolster their areas of weakness.
Instead, San Francisco have confounded even their sternest advocates, offering a 3-year, $12m contract to quasi-legendary short-stop Omar Vizquel. Just when you thought the Giants had to get -- are were about to get -- younger, they add 37 years to an infield that already includes J.T.Snow (38), Ray Durham (34) and Edgardo Alfonzo (32). The twist is that two days before securing Vizquel, the ballclub had inked incumbent short-stop Deivi Cruz an $800,000 one-year deal. Not exactly what most of us were hoping for.
Strange though this clear misallocation of funds is, the team is poised to do well in the free agent market. This could be the saving grace for GM Brian Sabean, who like to pounce before the field has even taken shape. Critics will say that the number of premium short-stops on the market this year, including Nomar Garciaparra, Orlanda Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, and until recently Christian Guzman, would likely have driven down the price on veterans such as Barry Larkin and Vizquel. In short, there is a glut of options at short for any team who wants it; that's why the Vizquel deal seems more hasty than timely. The irony is that, in recent months, Sabean made no attempt to disguise his penchant for Cabrera. This tells us two things:
1) The Giants can ill-afford a bidding war -- except with themselves, and
2) After two years of idle dabbling in the free agent market, they believe they can win now -- or, at the very least, they should damn well die trying.
It may be too early to tell, but the free agent market seems plump with promise. Moreover, San Francisco is fortunate to have needs in areas where competition will be less fierce. Carlos Beltran is too much for an $80m payroll that includes Bonds, Durham, Rueter and Alfonso at $47m, but at least his contract will take out a significant chunk of George Steinbrenner's proverbial wallet. Starting Pitching the Giants thankfully do not need with Noah Lowry hoping to join Jerome Williams to form a formidable trio with Jason Schmidt. Jesse Foppert waits in the wings. Brett Tomko is a horse. Meanwhile, Carl Pavano, Pedro Martinez, Brad Radke et al should preoccupy the opposition while Sabean can search more carefully for a diamond in the rough. Unless, that is, he decides to make another pre-emptive strike.