It wasn’t even a week after the Giants were eliminated in the NLDS that
the Giants announced that they will be cutting $10 million from their
payroll. The $10 million was changed to a more favorable $7-8 million
soon after, which still just leaves the Giants with around $77-78
million to play with.
The offseason started off for the Giants with options being declined on
first baseman, J.T. Snow, and infielder Eric Young, while reliever
Felix Rodriguez exercised his player option.
Young was acquired in the midseason from the Milwaukee Brewers as an
insurance player for the Giants during Ray Durham’s recovery. Young
provided to be a good lead off man with speed and good defense, but his
offensive performance was under what was expected. Young was not on the
roster for the NLDS. The Giants bought out Young’s contract for $1
million. Young expressed that he wants to start for a team, and there
is a possibility he may return to Milwaukee.
Snow was acquired from the Anaheim Angels in 1997 and has been a
defensive force at first base with six Gold Gloves, four with the
Giants. He had back-to-back impressive postseasons in 2002 and 2003,
but has failed to hit against left-handed pitchers. The Giants gave
Snow a $750,000 buyout while declining his $6.5 million option.
On the same day, reliever Felix Rodriguez exercised his player option,
and his return to the Giants is anticipated for 2004.
Two days later, the Giants declined the option for Jose Cruz, Jr.’s $4
million contract. Cruz played impressive defense all season for the
Giants, which included setting a new club record of 18 outfield
assists, and may win him a Gold Glove this season, but the catching
error in Game 3 of the NLDS will be a never ending sting to the right
fielder. More importantly, Cruz struggled offensively and posted twenty
long balls with 68 RBIs in 151 games while also holding the most
strikeouts on the club. Cruz received a $300,000 buyout.
Young was not expected back after being cut from the NLDS roster. He
may have been the only one enjoying the sight of Snow chugging from
second base to home plate just to be called as the final out of the
Giants’ season. Young has been vocal about not understanding why he was
not placed on the NLDS roster, because according to him, that was what
they brought him there for. Sorry, Eric, you’ve tasted what it’s like
to be on a winning team, but now it’s time to go back to the Sausage
Chances of returning: 5% (Just because nothing’s impossible)
The Giants are hopeful on keeping Snow, and Snow is hopeful of
returning to the Giants. With their payroll and their choices for a
first baseman limited, the Giants will need to negotiate an adequate
contract with Snow, possibly offering him no more than $1.5-2 million.
The 35-year-old veteran has expressed his dislike with being benched
against left-handed pitchers, but the chances of Snow starting against
lefties is still low, no matter how much Snow still believes himself to
be an everyday player and that he is capable of hitting southpaws.
However, Felipe Alou has other options and Snow will not be starting
against lefties with the way Alou has been managing the team. With Snow
back on the team and Pedro Feliz wondering in the wings, long time
veteran, Andres Galarraga, may be a goner before he reaches his goal of
Chances of returning: 65%
Felix Rodriguez embodies the inconsistency of the Giant bullpen, but he
did have a good postseason. He has learned to use the entire strike
zone, painting the corners and blowing fastballs by hitters. Although
it is unlikely that the Giants will trade him before 2004, they have
many options in the bullpen.
Depending on the recovery of closer, Robb Nen, and the future of the
replacement closer, Tim Worrell, Rodriguez’s role is still in question.
With Worrell most likely gone to be another team’s closer, Rodriguez
will most likely become the set-up man for Nen.
If Nen isn’t fully recovered and Worrell is gone, it is not ruled out
that Rodriguez will be the replacement closer, although Joe Nathan is
looming. The Giants will prefer Rodriguez over Nathan because of
Nathan’s shaky outings in the playoffs, where he was not effective at
all. Still, the Giants have two solid set-up men in their bullpen with
Chances of being traded before season opener: 10%
The Giants are hoping to land a bigger offensive force in right field,
and therefore, declined their option for Cruz. Cruz has played
spectacular defense, but his offense is a much less compelling story.
Although the organization has never seen anyone play right field at Pac
Bell (SBC) Park as Cruz has, his lack of offense will help the Giants
show him out the door.
However, Cruz may be the only better option the Giants have. Even to
the doubt of public opinion, they have mentioned that their payroll
will not enable them to sign a big name free agent like Vladimir
Guerrero or Gary Sheffield to play right field. Either one of those
players will be a blessing offensively and not so much of a downgrade
defensively, and will provide the Giants with more life in their post-
Barry Bonds years.
Chances of returning: 40%
Chances of signing Guerrero or Sheffield: 20%
Sara Kwan was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. She
currently writes game recaps, other articles, and is the Giant Prophet for
SFDugout.com. Any comments or questions about the article, baseball, or the
meaning of life can be sent to Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org
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