Commentary

30 Questions: Does San Francisco's 'offense' make every Giant unownable?

Updated: March 5, 2008, 1:57 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Thirty teams, 30 burning fantasy questions. Throughout the preseason, we put one of these questions to an ESPN.com analyst for an in-depth look at the most interesting, perplexing or dumbfounding fantasy facet of each major league team.

Does San Francisco's "offense" make every Giant unownable?

In 2007, the Giants finished 25th in the major leagues in home runs, 29th in runs scored and dead last in OPS. Now let's take away Barry Bonds, Ryan Klesko and Pedro Feliz, and you're eliminating 41 percent of San Francisco's home runs, 27 percent of the runs scored, and the pitiful OPS would drop even further to .672. This is the offense (if you can even call it that) that remains, and even with the addition of Aaron Rowand, we can't help but wonder whether there is any Giant worth having on your fantasy team.

Let's take a look at the projected starters. You've got Bengie Molina, already a visitor to the disabled list five times in his career, who is suffering from a strained left quadriceps that has restricted his workout time this spring. Then there's Omar Vizquel, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a torn meniscus from his left knee. He's already projected to miss four to six weeks, and as a member of the over-40 crowd, Vizquel may not bounce back that quickly.

[+] EnlargeRajai Davis
Mitchell Layton/Getty ImagesRajai Davis could provide cheap steals if he gets any playing time.
Kevin Frandsen will replace Vizquel at shortstop until he is indeed able to return, but there's no telling if the young infielder will continue to get playing time thereafter, due to the presence of Ray Durham at second base and Rich Aurilia at third base. Drafting either Durham or Aurilia also brings with it inherent risk, not only due to their age (both 36) but also their declining skills. Durham's .178 second-half batting average in 2007 isn't exactly screaming, "Pick me!" Meanwhile, Aurilia's power drop-off from 23 home runs in 2006 to a mere five last season could be a harbinger that his end is nigh.

All this uncertainty in the infield has the rumor mill spinning full speed with the possible acquisition of Joe Crede from the White Sox. The Chicago Tribune recently reported that Giants scout Ted Uhlaender was in attendance when Crede hit a home run against the Diamondbacks. Even if that deal does come to fruition, Crede missed most of 2007 after season-ending back surgery in June. Look up "risk" in the dictionary, and Joe Crede will be smiling back at you from the margin.

So what about Aaron Rowand? Isn't he worth owning? After all, the free agent is coming off a season where he hit .309 with 27 home runs and 89 RBIs. That's not too shabby, no? Well, no. His power numbers certainly were helped a bit by playing 81 games in the home run factory that is Citizens Bank Park. Plus, it's a heck of a lot easier driving in runs behind the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, as opposed to Dave Roberts, Ray Durham and Randy Winn.

The rest of the Giants' hitters are young and lack either meaningful major league experience, a full-time job or both. Names such as Dan Ortmeier, Rajai Davis, Eugenio Velez, Fred Lewis and Nate Schierholtz may be worth drafting someday, but not in 2008. At least not as anything more than a late-round roll of the dice.

But we're not finished answering the question yet, because it asks about "every Giant" -- and the last time I checked, there was a bunch of guys in the bullpen drawing a paycheck from Peter A. Magowan. What does this offense do to the draft value of the pitchers? Are they, too, unownable? Certainly, the bullpen would seem to be. It's hard to feel good about drafting a closer, whether the long-term answer for the Giants ends up being Brian Wilson, Tyler Walker or Brad Hennessey, from a team you don't think will score any runs. It's hard to pile up the saves when your team never wins.

As for the rotation, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum could both be Cy Young material on another team. But in San Francisco, you can have an ERA better than 19-game winner Chien-Ming Wang or 16-game winners like Roy Halladay and Aaron Harang, and not even sniff double digits in wins. You shouldn't build your fantasy staff around these pitchers, at least not yet, but their skill is readily apparent, and they won't kill you for having drafted them.

On the other side of the coin, while spring training games aren't always an indicator of how things are going to be once April rolls around, early poor outings by Barry Zito and Noah Lowry should act as kryptonite to their inclusion on your draft lists. Zito lasted only two-thirds of an inning in his spring debut against Oakland, getting tattooed for eight runs and seven hits, while Lowry faced only 12 batters Monday against Texas, walking nine of them. Perhaps they may be unownable without any help from the offense, but the absence of a solid lineup certainly doesn't mitigate the damage.

The Giants' offense, or lack thereof, may not make every single member of the team unownable, only most of them. And for the few who may have some value to you, it's certainly not nearly as much as they could be worth if they took up residence in another clubhouse.

AJ Mass is a fantasy football, baseball and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.