Hot Stove Daily: San Francisco Giants

Tim Brown
Yahoo! Sports
Smoltz

Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports will examine the offseason plans of every MLB team before the Dec. 3-6 winter meetings. Our series continues with the San Francisco Giants.

2007 record: 71-91

Finish: Fifth place in National League West

2007 Opening-day payroll: $91 million

Free agents:Barry Bonds OF; Pedro Feliz 3B; Ryan Klesko 1B; Mike Matheny C; Russ Ortiz RHP; Omar Vizquel SS; Tyler Walker RHP.

WISH LIST

If the Giants and general manager Brian Sabean had a single wish, it might be to have the last three years back. But, since that probably won't happen, they'll make do with having put a sizable dent in the ballpark mortgage and putting to use some of that $19 million they won't be spending on Barry Bonds next season.

Of course, they currently have an opening on their roster at Most Feared Hitter in the Game, which might be tough to fill in a relatively weak market.

Yes, the Giants have gotten off the Bonds bandwagon, only to find his departure created not just a hole in left field, but in at least one other outfield spot, at first base, second base, third base and in a couple places in the bullpen.

They re-signed shortstop Omar Vizquel, still pretty slick with the glove but, at 40, a .246 hitter, and right-hander Tyler Walker, who made an impressive return from Tommy John surgery in the final month of 2007.

The Giants are among the teams aggressively pursuing a Miguel Cabrera trade, though Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum almost certainly would have to be part of the deal, which would damage the best part of the team – starting pitching.

They could instead shoot lower at third base, say for Troy Glaus, Joe Crede, Scott Rolen or Ty Wigginton.

Sabean also must upgrade in the outfield, and to that end is believed to be in on Andruw Jones or Aaron Rowand.

REALITY CHECK

Jones
Cain

This is a pretty major rebuild, but it could be worse. The Giants have two starters – Cain and Lincecum – who could develop into No. 1's, a pretty solid No. 3 in Barry Zito, and the left-hander Noah Lowry, who quietly had a nice breakout in 2007. Lowry won 14 games and his ERA – 3.92 – was better than all but Cain's 3.65.

Sadly for them, they paid Zito to be an ace, and what they got was an average pitcher and a good locker buddy for Bonds. Zito's WHIP was 1.35, which ranked in the National League between Colorado's Jason Hirsh and Houston's Chris Sampson.

Even with Bonds in the lineup most nights, the Giants scored the second-fewest runs in the NL (ahead of only the Washington Nationals) and had the worst OPS. They have little coming soon from the farm system, meaning, without major offensive improvements at first, third and in the outfield, the Giants will struggle to score runs again.

Bottom line, the Giants have a long way to go to catch any of the other four teams in the West, a fact that might not change for a while.

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NEXT: Seattle Mariners.