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Breaking News!

My inside source just confirmed the Giants are going to sign Gary Matthews Jr. This source -- the little voice inside my head that reminds me how the world works -- has been wrong in the past, but there's no reason to doubt him now. Son of a legacy Giant...coming off of the best year in his career, ensuring an exaggerated contract...plays a position the Giants have already committed over $20M to...over 30.... Perfect fit.

The grand offseason tradition of internet baseball nerddom -- mock roster construction -- is usually just speculation at this point. Now, however, I think any mock roster construction has to include Matthews. The Giants have already made clear they're looking for a true centerfielder, whatever that means, and it just makes too much sense they'll overpay for him. He's as good as signed. Matthews isn't a bad player, really. He plays a mean centerfield, he's speedy, and he certainly hit well last year. He'd be a solid pickup. For a small two-year deal. For a team that didn't already have a competent CF. On the Giants, he'd be a total misappropriation of funds.

The problem is two-fold: First, the Giants would then make Randy Winn one of the worst-hitting rightfielders in the game and, second, there is no way the Giants wouldn't pay through the nose for this privilege. How much do the Giants want to pay based on Little Sarge's one exceptional season? Five million per year? Six? Seven? There's no way to trade Randy Winn with his contract, so it would be a Winn/Matthews/Player-to-be-named outfield. That isn't the greatest head start for a roster.

But what would the options be? How much more could the Giants do with their roster if they signed Matthews? Here's a diary that discusses what the Giants have to spend and what they have committed. To just throw names out there:

Matt Cain - .5M
Matt Morris - 9.5M
Noah Lowry - 1M
Jonathan Sanchez - .5M
Hennessey/Correia/Lincecum - .5M

Chulk - .5M
Wilson - .5M
Sadler - .5M
Worrell - 2M
Stanton - 1.5M
Taschner - .5M
Misch - .5M

Omar Vizquel - 5M
Randy Winn - 7M
Carlos Lee - 12M
Aramis Ramirez - 14M
Pat Burrell - 13M (Benitez and his $8M go the other direction)
Gary Matthews - 6M
Ray Durham - 7M
Eliezer Alfonzo - .5M

Mark Sweeney - 1M
Backup C - .5M
Backup SS - 1M
Jason Ellison - .5M
Todd Linden - .5M

Matheny/buyouts/deferrals: 12.5M


98.5M (It ain't totally accurate, and there was a whole lot of rounding up and guesswork, but this will do....)

Too much by about $5M to $10M, but this is just riffing. You can sub Frandsen for Durham, or Craig Wilson and Benitez for Burrell. Maybe work in a mid-rotation starter and a bullpen arm with some creativity. There are a hundred different variations that would be just as acceptable. I'm not crazy about the contract Lee will eventually receive; I'd just as soon have Bonds back at a similar price and not have to worry about Lee in 2011, but Lee would be exciting in the short-term. And this isn't a totally realistic lineup, as Lee might want to play closer to home, or Aramis Ramirez might have an undisclosed fear of hills (incliniophobia). That's a fairly brutal defense with that roster, too.

This isn't meant to be some grand lineup of the gods, though. The point is that the Giants can, in Theory Land, build a good lineup this offseason. It starts with getting at least two middle-of-the-order hitters. Bonds. Burrell. Aramis. Lee. Anyone with a pulse and a slugging percentage over .500. Even though the Giants will sign Matthews to a silly contract, they can certainly get that kind of power hitter. The Giants have a huge payroll advantage with their (mostly) cheap starting pitching; hopefully they can do something exciting. So while the idea of Matthews being some ultra-desirous free agent coup is disturbing, he isn't going to be the centerpiece of the offseason. There is at least some solace to be found in that.

Also, please notice how Pedro Feliz isn't on that roster.

Also, note that in Theory Land, people wear hats on their feet, and hamburgers eat people.