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An Arb and a Leg (and Bengie Molina's Stomach)

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2PM UPDATE:

- Lincecum filed for $13 M, the Giants for $8 M.

- The Giants have re-signed Bengie Molina.

- The....wait a second. The what just re-signed the who? It's from our local CBS sports guy who has broken other news this winter, so there's no reason right now to doubt it. It's a one-year, $4.5 M contract.

If it's true, here's the good news:

- There weren't any unsigned catchers out there any better than Molina with the bat. Sentimental favorite Yorvit Torrealba always seems to kill the Giants, but against everyone else he's been an embarrassing hitter, especially for a guy who plays half his games in Denver. Defense is a different question, and a lot harder to answer, but you'd think Torrealba and Ausmus would be better behind the plate than Molina.

- If Buster Posey isn't ready to start on Opening Day, at least Molina won't be asked to hit cleanup. He'll probably be the 7th-place hitter in this lineup, which makes the holes in his offensive game a little more tolerable. Then again, if Aubrey Huff stumbles out of the gate, and Mark DeRosa is hurt, and....Good God, Bengie Molina could be the Giants' cleanup hitter.

Here's the bad news:

- $4.5 million is a lot to pay a backup catcher. Which of course means Buster Posey won't be given much chance, if any, to prove he can start the year running the show in The Show. Which means, more likely than not, Molina won't be the backup catcher. Which of course means that Bruce Bochy will insert him as the cleanup hitter because of his proven track record of being the cleanup hitter.

Good God, Bengie Molina will be the Giants' cleanup hitter. 

Here's the best-case scenario: the Giants give Posey plenty of room to do his thing this spring, he grabs the starting job by the cojones and never lets go. Bengie Molina teaches the kid many secrets, starts on Sundays and against tough lefties, and hits several pinch-hit home runs to win a few key games. It's the best $4.5 million ever spent on a backup catcher. 

----------------

Sorry, I hab a cold.

So far, at 11am PST, we know this:

- Jonathan Sanchez has settled for a $2.1 million plus incentives, according to a Jon Heyman tweet. Chris Haft at sfgiants.com confirms the Sanchez deal.

- Another tweetmeister guesses Lincecum will submit a number between $12 million and $13 million, well below the $20 M-plus figure that's been chattered about.

- Still waiting for rumor, speculation, or god forbid, facts about Brian Wilson. He'll probably get something similar to Sanchez.

A larger point to keep in mind about payroll. Lincecum has three more years of arbitration after this. Sanchez and Wilson have two more. Aaron Rowand is on the books through 2012, Barry Zito through 2014. Matt Cain has a reasonable team option for 2011 then hits free agency. Unless the Giants decide to join the league's top spenders, something's got to give. I would say by this time next year, if the team hasn't somehow shed either the Zito or the Rowand contract, one or more of these young guys will be gone. My guess is Matt Cain. He's the right combination of talent and affordability that a team looking to boost its rotation will covet. He'll fetch in trade more than Jonathan Sanchez would.

It'll be an emotional moment, not unlike the Matt Williams trade. If you're not old enough to remember the Matt Williams trade, keep it to yourself. My arthritis will flare up and I'll be forced to make "get off my lawn" jokes. Neither of us want that.    

Like the guy who runs the abandoned puppy shelter, we need to prepare. Don't get too attached. First and foremost, it's a business. I also suggest getting a headstart on the bitterness that comes from knowing the Giants had to trade Matt Cain (or Jonathan Sanchez, or...) because of the unmovable Rowand and Zito contracts.   


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