Cheap First Basemen

There has been much written about the possibility of the Giants acquiring a first baseman who would be expensive in terms of salary (Konerko, Thome, Klesko), prospects (Dunn, Huff, Overbay, Wilkerson, Howard), or both (Delgado). But if the Giants end up spending a good chunk of money on pitching, can they solve the first base problem without breaking the bank or emptying the farm system? Here are some cheap options that could help the team in 2006, even if they won't help sell any season tickets.

The numbers by each player are their projected 2005 EqA by PECOTA, their actual 2005 EqA, their 2005 MLB plate appearances, and their AAA numbers if applicable.

Group 1: Arbitration-Eligible Players

Russell Branyan (.294/.296/241)
Craig Wilson (.292/.289/237)
Carlos Pena (.288/.282/295)
Ben Broussard (.285/.272/502)

The PA numbers here indicate that these players aren't considered indispensable to these teams. Wilson may not be a great fit, even though his numbers against righties have improved lately, but we could do a lot worse than Branyan, Pena, or Broussard.

Group 2: Cheap Free Agents

Erubiel Durazo (.296/.243/167)
Mark Sweeney (.261/.313/261)

Nothing too exciting here. Durazo can hit, but he hasn't played much first base lately, and is it really fair to female fans to replace J.T. Snow with a Durazo/Niekro platoon? Sweeney had a great year, but he's 36 and those 261 PA were a career high. Are we ready to give him 500 PA? I believe that Roberto Petagine and Brian Daubach are free agents, but I'll choose to place them in the next category...

Group 3: Triple-A Mashers

Calvin Pickering (.320/.173/30, .275/.384/.528 in AAA)
Brian Daubach (.288/.243/33, .325/.426/.554 in AAA)
Joe Dillon (.286/.161/38, .360/.459/.631 in AAA)
Roberto Petagine (.282/.283/36, .327/.452/.635 in AAA)
Terrmel Sledge (.280/.272/44)
Ross Gload (.258/.113/44, .364/.416/.657 in AAA)

So, who are the 4-A players, and who are the solid big leaguers waiting for their chance to play? I have no idea; I only know that it would be pretty cheap to find out. PECOTA has always had an unnatural Pickering fetish; they predicted that he would be a better hitter than Carlos Delgado this season. Still, this "off" season after 2004's .314/.451/712 campaign is intriguing. Sledge spent most of the year on the DL after a decent 2004 as a fourth outfielder... he hit .324/.397/.545 in AAA in 2003. PECOTA was not a big Gload fan this season, but he remains one of my top choices.

Other than that, there is Matt Stairs (.287/.296/461), who the Royals could probably be talked out of. And I'm sure there are some Petagine clones bashing through Japan (Alex Cabrera? Fernando Seguignol?), but I don't know enough about the relevance of Japanese statistics to have much of an opinion. Brad Fullmer (.287 projected 2005 EqA) was trying out in Japan the last I heard.

Any comments or additions to this list would be appreciated.

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