The second in a hard-hitting Datelineish hidden-camera expose about the Giants return to future contention, designed to ask the questions everyone else is scared to ask. Or, the sound of one nerd whining. Same thing.
The bold, shocking, daytime soap-worthy cliffhanger I dropped yesterday -- that I'm in favor of trading Mike Matheny if it is possible -- leaves us ripe for a letdown. Onto first base we go, however, where the Giants face one of the tougher decisions in the reloading/rebuilding.
J.T. Snow has a been a Giant for a long, long time. He has provided some great moments for the team, and might get a gold watch as the team boots him out the door. He just isn't going to start next year. No, really, they mean it this time. This isn't the aforementioned tough decision. Unless Snow is willing to be a benchie, he's gone. No, really.
The tough decision revolves around the evaluation of Lance Niekro. As with most of the You Gotta Tolerate These Kids!, he has an easily identifiable ledger of pros and cons.
He has power. Big, strong, thumping power, and he can definitely whomp a home run or two.
He is likely to continue to be a high-average, high-contact player. With a runner on third and less than two outs, Niekro could be the best hitter the team could send up.
He is surprisingly adept around the bag.
He is apparently made of graham crackers and moist towels, and is likely to completely disintegrate at any moment.
Niekro believes that every time he takes a walk, God is forced to kill a kitten. Niekro just loves kittens. So, there you have it.
He hasn't yet proven an ability to hit major league right-handers, which is just the teeeeeniest detail to consider when anointing someone a starting first basemen.
It seems like Niekro can be a valuable player, but his ceiling is still very much in doubt. The best bet would be to find a lefty to pair him with, maybe even competing rather than platooning. The buried Ryan Howard is an obvious target, but he is coveted by plenty of teams. Maybe bringing in a left-handed veteran would work as a safety net for the Giants as they give Niekro a shot to claim a full-time job. Hopefully the veteran would have a high on-base percentage against righties, to compensate for Niekro's deficiency in that respect.
Hrmm. Left-handed veteran with a high-OBP against righties. Would he have to give the gold watch back?
Your solution to the first base puzzle of the future, please.