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Bunk and Debunk

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We’re a couple days away from the Hot Stove League — and wouldn’t a hot stove feel nice after all that phreezing rain in Philly?

Let’s pick up a few recent Giants-related rumors and address them.

* From CNNSI’s Jon Heyman (via MLB Trade Rumors), the Mets are interested in Bengie Molina. Two questions are paramount here: Can the Giants enter 2009 with Pablo Sandoval and Steve Holm as their main backstops? And what can the Giants get for Molina?

If the answer to the latter is “Not much more than they could get for him mid-year,” I would wait til mid-year. If the Mets want to get all Scott Kazmirish, it’s certainly worth a listen. But frankly, I’ll be surprised if the Giants can pry loose a top prospect for Molina, who has only one more year on his contract and, despite his cult status in S.F., is more likely to decline than improve. If the return is incremental at best, it’s not worth doing. He’s more valuable helping the pitchers and easing the transition for Sandoval, whom I’d like to see get at least a couple more months of big-league experience before he’s anointed starting catcher. (Notice I am assuming that Buster Posey will not be MLB-ready at any time in ‘09; argue with me if you dare.)

* The Marlins want to trade 1B Mike Jacobs, and the Giants are reportedly interested. This is silly on several fronts. First: Jacobs isn’t that good. Other than lots of home runs, he has limited bat skills. He can be neutralized by left-handed pitching, and as a left-handed pull hitter playing at Mays Field his one main skill — hitting home runs — will be compromised. Second: The Giants have internal options in Sandoval, Bowker, Ishikawa. Hell, another year of a very cheap Rich Aurilia to platoon against LHP wouldn’t be the worst thing. (I would love to see Richie back on a one-year deal as a utility infielder/pinch-hitter, but that’s for another post.) The only reason to go external for a first baseman is if he’s a game changer. Third: Jacobs will start making multi-millions through arbitration this winter.

* Manny Ramirez. When the Dodgers were eliminated by the Phils, Manny told the press, “Gas is up and so am I.” This guy threw the Giants into the Manny mix by running the old “believed-to-be-interested” fleaflicker. Even with the price of gas now down again, the six-year deal agent Scott Boras has floated is about as believable as Sarah Palin in a Prius. I can’t believe the Giants would even ask other than to drive up the price for the Dodgers. It makes so little sense in so many ways.

There will certainly be plenty of bunk to debunk this winter. Let’s hope the Giants make only the most judicious forays into the free agent and trade markets. With Neukom running the show, the farm system rehab going extremely well, and a chastened Brian Sabean — I would argue the public backlash against the proposed Lincecum-for-Alexis Rios trade last winter was a turning point for him — I’m more optimistic than usual that the Giants won’t be foolish this winter.


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