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In the year 2000.....

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The meme going 'round: "Giants are old this season, probably won't do well, and will completely collapse into vintage-Devil Ray hell by 2007, if not this season." It's a fire and brimstone assessment, and one that has at least a little validity behind it. There has been a tendency to equate age with certain doom, however, when it comes to the Giants of the future. Yes, the Giants have the best chance of any major league team to have a clubhouse scandal involving a nude Rue McClanahan and 8-balls of Metamucil, but they certainly aren't betrothed to a whole lot of these veterans for long. The Giants are allowed to get new players.

This is such an overlooked point, it bears special emphasis. The Giants are allowed to get new players. Including Bonds' deferred salary, my rough calculations show the team is committed to about $40M in salary next year. That leaves $100M for the Giants to spend, assuming I inherit billions from a long-lost cousin who was a count in Romania and buy the Giants. If that doesn't happen, perhaps if I'm unable to spend one night in the haunted castle as stipulated in the will, we'll assume the Giants are going to come in at about $80M to $90M in total payroll. I'm hoping $90M, at least.

Before I begin looking into the future, allow me to point out there are so many disclaimers that need to be disclosed about what I'm about to do - so many things that can foul these erstwhile plans up - that the reasons making this all useless speculation will be allotted an entire post of their own tomorrow. Here's a roughest of the rough glimpse at what the Giants could possibly do for the 2007 team through free agency, with some crazy salary guesstimates thrown in:

CF - Randy Winn, $5M
3B - Melvin Mora, $7M
1B - Derrek Lee, $12M
LF - Barry Bonds, $15M
RF - Carlos Lee, $8M
2B - Ronnie Belliard, $5M
C - Matheny, $3.75M
SS - Vizquel, $4M

SP - Matt Morris, $9.5M
SP - Noah Lowry, $3M
SP - Matt Cain, $.8M
SP - Barry Zito, $12M
SP - Jason Schmidt, $9.5M
CP - Benitez, $7.6

Rest of bullpen - $6M
Rest of bench - $6M
Deferred junk - Not sure. $10M?

Total: $124M

Well, that's not going to happen. It isn't exactly a team you'd automatically put in the World Series, either, and that's something you'd kind of want for $124M. Let's go through another permutation, and see if there is a way to clean this up.
CF - Randy Winn, $5M
2B - Kevin Frandsen, $.3M
1B - Derrek Lee, $12M
LF - Barry Bonds, $15M
RF - David Delucci, $5M
3B - Melvin Mora, $7M
C - Matheny, $3.75M
SS - Vizquel, $4M

SP - Matt Morris, $9.5M
SP - Noah Lowry, $3M
SP - Matt Cain, $.8M
SP - Barry Zito, $12M
SP - Hennessey/Valdez/Other farm product, $.5M

CP - Benitez, $7.6

Rest of bullpen - $6M
Rest of bench - $6M
Deferred junk - Not sure. $10M?

Total: $107.45M

Still not going to happen. But this lineup is only counting on two new farm system products to break in the lineup; Frandsen and a fifth starter. Let's ignore that the Giants produce regular position player talent at about the same pace other organizations produce Hall of Fame talent - about every two decades, or so - and try and see what there is to spend in a best case scenario:
CF - Randy Winn, $5M
2B - Kevin Frandsen, $.3M
1B - Lance Niekro/Travis Ishikawa, $1M
LF - Barry Bonds, $15M
RF - Eddy Martinez-Esteve/Nate Schierholtz, $.6M
3B - Melvin Mora, $7M
C - Matheny, $3.75M
SS - Vizquel, $4M

SP - Matt Morris, $9.5M
SP - Noah Lowry, $3M
SP - Matt Cain, $.8M
SP - Barry Zito, $12M
SP - Hennessey/Valdez/Other farm product, $.5M

CP - Benitez, $7.6

Rest of bullpen - $6M
Rest of bench - $6M
Deferred junk - Not sure. $10M?

Total: $92.05

That's more realistic with the payroll, but it isn't really realistic with the talent projections. It also doesn't look like a good offense at all. Hoping for just one of Niekro, Frandsen, EME, Ishikawa, Schierholtz to be an average player in 2007 would be more plausible, but even that might be a stretch. Another thing to remember is that I'm ignoring everyone else. There's always a chance for Fred Lewis, Dan Ortmeier, Marcus Sanders, and even Todd Linden do something this year that would put them in the 2007 lineup. We'll have to assume they won't, but it would be gravy if they could.

This is an extremely irresponsible look at the Giants future, and it's also a bit premature. But it's kinda fun. Some notes:

  • There is a stunning lack of free agent talent at 3B for the coming offseason. This is why it's hard to remove Mora and still make the team palatable. If the Giants don't develop someone quick, or if Feliz doesn't improve, that's likely to be the blackest hole in the lineup. Well, that we don't know about already.
  • Derrek Lee is going to be super-pricey, and he'd likely sign elsewhere for a variety of reasons, but he was included because he was the most desirable free agent player. Cheaper options could include Nick Johnson, Aubrey Huff, and Dmitri Young.
  • I picked Barry Zito only because he was the priciest name out there. Other free agents could include Andy Pettitte, Jose Contreras, Mark Mulder, Tomo Ohka, Jason Marquis, and Brad Radke.
  • Bonds leaving the Giants to be a DH would be a drag, but it would likely free up a lot of payroll.
  • There is some good talent lined up for the 2007 offseason, as well. Adam Dunn, Roy Oswalt, Vernon Wells, Bobby Abreu, and Carlos Zambrano could all be available.
  • The magic of deferred payroll was ignored, and that could play a huge part. There's less than $20M committed for 2008, so even the first lineup could work with some creative structuring.
  • There are hundreds of permutations for this stuff, but my point was to show a good team is possible for next year. Likely? That's up for debate.
There usually doesn't need to be much pleading to have baseball fans come up with mock rosters. It's pretty much the oldest tradition in internet baseball discourse, so I'm hoping everyone can go to MLB4U, check out the future free agents, and figure out a roster guess or wishcast of your own. Then I'll come back tomorrow, point out why it's ridiculous to even think this way, and we'll all go back to sulking about the future.