Commentary

Giants to put emphasis on pitching and defense

Originally Published: November 5, 2007
By John Shea | Special to ESPN.com

The Giants posted a losing record for the third straight season, and 2007 was more about Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record than the team's pursuit of victories.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Giants GM: Brian Sabean
Manager: Bruce Bochy
'07 record: 71-91, 5th NL West
'07 payroll: $90.5M, 11th MLB
Runs scored: 683, 15th NL
Runs allowed: 720, 3rd NL
OPS: .708, 16th NL
ERA: 4.19, 5th NL
Fielding percentage: .986, T-2nd NL
Bruce Bochy finished with a 71-91 record in his first year as manager, and the best news was the development of a young rotation featuring Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Noah Lowry. Barry Zito was 11-13 in the first year of his $126 million contract.

Primary needs

This is a team with holes throughout the lineup and bullpen. Among everyday players, only catcher Bengie Molina and outfielder Randy Winn appear to have their starting jobs secured. With Bonds gone, nobody in the organization is a prototypical 3-4-5 hitter, so the Giants need to fill more than one spot with a power hitter. For now, the closer would appear to be untested Brian Wilson, though the back end of the bullpen is mostly up in the air.

Barry Bonds

Bonds

Free agents

LF Barry Bonds, SS Omar Vizquel, 3B Pedro Feliz, 1B/OF Ryan Klesko, RHP Russ Ortiz.

The Giants have to rely on free agents because of their inability to sign and develop position players. They may consider Alex Rodriguez to replace Bonds as the resident superstar. But because they have so many holes, it may be wiser to spread the wealth and upgrade at more positions than one.

Trade bait

The most tradable player is Lowry, a middle-of-the-rotation lefty who led the Giants with 14 wins in 2007. He could be shopped for a young hitter and prospects. The Giants view Lowry as expendable because their rotation is the deepest in the NL West.

Other than Lincecum and Cain, no one on the roster is safe, except for Zito, if only because teams wouldn't take on his contract.

Kevin Frandsen

Frandsen

Farm aid

For the first time in a decade, the Giants gave young players chances at the end of the season, and nonrookies Kevin Frandsen (second base) and Rajai Davis (center field) have the best chances to win jobs next season. The others appear to be in the hunt for backup jobs, including Daniel Ortmeier, who's converting from the outfield to first base, and outfielders Nate Schierholtz and Fred Lewis. Because so many young players got ample time, only Schierholtz among the group is a rookie.

Outlook

Owner Peter Magowan suggested he's willing to endure a couple of more down years if it means the Giants could win in the future. He said the payroll will be about the same, above $90 million, and the emphasis will be on pitching and defense.

In July, he gave GM Brian Sabean a two-year extension with a one-year club option for 2010. Sabean is looking forward to more payroll flexibility in Bonds' absence.

John Shea is the national baseball writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.

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