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The Hot Stove

The Winter Meetings commence in Nashville, Tenn., six days from now, and the A’s and Giants, traditionally tight-lipped during this time of year, continue to pop up on the rumor mill. Here are three key questions regarding each.

A’S

1) Do the A’s view themselves as contenders or rebuilders? Wrote back in September that the this franchise is a bit like a house that eventually will need some major renovation; the question is when to begin? Chances are, the offers the A’s get for pitchers Dan Haren and Joe Blanton during the meetings could well determine the answer. Haren, especially, may be the most attractive pitcher on the market behind Minnesota’s Johan Santana (and some would argue, more), because he’s a very cheap No. 1. But that might make him even more desirable for the A’s to keep, because with full health, the A’s could still make some noise. Hard decision for Billy Beane to make.

2) How much of what they do will depend on the health of their roster? Almost all of it, because when healthy, the A’s still have a very sound roster. That said, can they really afford to count on starter Rich Harden, shortstop Bobby Crosby, center fielder Mark Kotsay to be key cogs anymore? And shouldn’t they be awfully concerned with how third baseman Eric Chavez will respond after three off-season surgeries?

3) Who are the A’s most attractive trade chips? Besides Haren and Blanton, the A’s could probably get some interesting offers for closer Huston Street, outfielder Nick Swisher and second baseman Mark Ellis (though it’s extremely doubtful the latter two are going anywhere).

GIANTS
1) Will they really trade Tim Lincecum? It appears they’re prepared to do so, if the prize is the middle-of-the-order bat they need so much. I’d hate to see that, because Lincecum is so fun to watch. But if you had to choose, I’d pick Matt Cain over Lincecum, because Cain, according to scouts, will probably prove to be more durable and has a nasty streak when he pitches that you just can’t teach.

2) Do they really need a center fielder? Look at it this way. If they can make a play for Aaron Rowand, they should, and they shouldn’t look down their noses at Andruw Jones, either. That said, it’s not worth overpaying for those two, because in Rajai Davis and Dave Roberts, the Giants have two guys who can patrol that patch of green pretty competently. The scary part, of course, is if one of them gets injured, and knowing Roberts’ history, that’s likely a matter of when, not if.

3) Besides Lincecum, who’s the best bait? At this point, perhaps catcher Bengie Molina. He had a fantastic year offensively, so his value may never be higher. Catcher can be replaced, and let’s face it, the Giants likely aren’t going to climb more than one or two rungs in the NL West, no matter who’s behind the plate.

rhurd

  • Charlie

    I don’t know about trading Lincecum. Cain would get you the most value, cause he is younger than Lincecum and is proven, young ace who could lead a staff. And besides Lincecum is the Giants franchise player…he wasn’t nicknamed “The Franchise” for nothing. And secondly, it hasn’t worked out for Cain as far as the results are concerned. So put Cain and Sanchez and some prospects in a deal to get that middle-of the order hitter they are seeking and needing. And I still feel strong with a staff of Zito, Lincecum, Lowry, Correia, and Misch or another prospect arises from the farm. Hence, maybe the Giants could throw in a deal with the Marlins for Cabrera and Willis in trading Cain, Sanchez, outfield prospect Fred Lewis, Bengie Molina because Marlins are needing a catcher and if they want Durham, that would be just as sweet to throw him in there to fill second base, moving Uggla to 3rd base to fill Cabrera’s void. How about that? And sign Andruw Jones as your primary free agent signee and your offseason is complete. The Giants outlook would look like this: Rotation of Willis, Zito, Lincecum, Lowry, and Correia. And a lineup that tops off with leadoff man Rajai Davis, platooning with Dave Roberts and a middle of the order of Randy Winn, Miguel Cabrera, and Andruw Jones. Catching duties could go to Guillermo Rodriguez and Elezier Alfonzo. We could go from Pretenders to Contenders in no time with these deals!