WARNING: NO ORIGINAL IDEAS CONTAINED WITHIN THIS ENTRY.
I don't know how many of you have jobs which allow you to lounge around your house in your boxers during weekdays, but I'm lucky enough to be in that position. Because of this, I was able to catch a Hot Stove League Wrap-up on ESPNews today, and since I'm sure many of you missed it -- and because it featured the Giants prominently -- I thought I'd do a public service by outlining the content here.
The first in-studio guests were the omnipresent Peter Gammons and that adorable little Tim Kurkjian. Thankfully, the first subject was the NL West and they lead right off with the Giants. Both Kurkjian and Gammons agreed that the Giants were the early favorites in the division, and that Sabean did a fine job this year. Gammons reasoned that Sabes only had a two-year (Bonds) window to work with, and did the best he could under those contraints. Much more difficult to hear was his appraisal that due to Sabean's strategy, the Giants would be big-time contenders the next year or two, and then "will win 43 games in 2007, but will host an All-Star game, and by then he'll working for another team anyway."
But the real nugget Gammons let fly was his opinion that not only are the Giants the favorite in the West, but "if they make the playoffs, they have a real shot at winning the World Series." (He said the same thing about the Twins.) Of course, he prefaced this with the normal prerequisites: "as long as they can stay healthy", "if the young pitching holds up", yadda, yadda, yadda.
Of course, this should be taken with a grain of salt, if not a pillar -- evidence of Gammon's penchant for hyperbole was never very far away: He mentioned that he spoke with former Cards hitting coach Mitchell "The Rage" Paige during the postseason, and paige claimed that Matheny has struggled to hit over his career (Duh!), but finally found himself in September last season. According to Gammons, Paige predicted Matheny would enjoy his best season ever in 2005.
On the more realistic side, Gammons also said that Matheny would improve the Giants pitching because, whether right or wrong, those pitchers didn't believe Pierzynski could be trusted last year.
More hyperbole: Gammons claimed that Omar Vizquel could be a good defensive shortstop at the age of 50.
More realism: He said one obvious concern he had about the Giants (besides injury) was their ability to play defense (other than Vizquel, Matheny and Snow).
The topic then changed to the Dodgers, and most of you will be happy to know that both Gammons and Kurkjian questioned their offseason. They both claimed to have faith in DePosdesta, then bashed many of his moves. They both thought Adrian Beltre should have been re-signed, with Kurkjian suggesting they would've had enough money to do so had they kept Cora, and not signed Kent. They both agreed that Beltre's 2004 was more likely a player finding himself at the still-young age of 25, than just a career seaon in a walk year. They both also questioned the Dodgers' formerly-vaunted infield defense, especially in light of the (expensive) signing of Derek Lowe, a groundball pitcher.
On the positive (or for me, the negative) side, they applauded L.A.'s signing of J.D. Drew, and Kurkjian explained all the moves the Dodgers made were in order to position themselves prominently in the free-agent market in the future.
That's it, folks. Take from it what you will. Or take from it what I took: Peter Gammons says the Giants are legitime contenders for the World Series (under certain conditions). Whether he's right or not remains to be seen.
54 days until Opening Day.