Before breaking Hillenbrand down like a cardboard box used to ship outs, it seems like the options to replace him deserve a few posts of their own. The catch: All of the options stink. The list of minor league free agents is bare. The list of major league free agents is bare. The players that are available in trade are controlled by teams that would actually want something back. Meanwhile, Lance Niekro is on the top step of the dugout, holding a bat and hoping to make eye contact.
There are others not worth mentioning, like Travis Lee and Doug Mientkiewicz. Something to consider would be the list of potential free agents after the 2007 season:
So, uh, yeah. Let's try and fill the first base position this offseason. From the first list:
Casey: I'd approve, but only with a very short and cheap deal. He really pootered out after getting to Detroit, but you can expect an on-base percentage around .370 and some solid defense. He does nothing to help with the lack of power, though.
Garciaparra: I'd approve, but not with anything close to the contract he'll receive. He's far, far too brittle to pay big money for, even though he'd look good in the middle of the lineup. He probably isn't as good as his last year, either.
Huff: I'd approve, with only minor reservations. The defense would be shoddy, and he's certainly on a slippery career slope. But he'd be cheap, wouldn't require a long-term deal, and there is an upside to hope for.
Millar: Like Casey, but without the defense or consistency. He'll also be 35, which means even his current meager production is far from given. I'd approve only if Niekro was the only other choice.
Wilson: Similar to Huff, but also with some limitations. He ain't that good, for one; he has a career on-base percentage of .354, and he struggles against right-handed pitching. However, if the biggest problem with the Giants offense was a lack of power, which is certainly a valid argument, Wilson is the best first baseman available for the Giants on the free agent market. He combines 25-homer power with an acceptable on-base percentage, and wouldn't require a restrictive contract like Garciaparra.
Young: Hasn't been good since 2003, and has temperament issues. Plays defense like Glenallen Hill on horse tranquilizers. Pass.
Wilson is the class of the bunch, especially considering Huff hasn't really played first base in the past few years. Just try to forget that the one true solution to the first base hole would be to reverse the rotation of the Earth and trade for Carlos Delgado or Jim Thome last offseason.
Tomorrow: Ideas for trade
Friday: Exploration of "free" talent