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Built to spill

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At the last gas station before the town of Wretched, the Giants are asking directions. They could still turn back, of course. Maybe someone left the oven on, or something fluky like that. But all things being equal, they are almost certain to bed down in a motel there for a couple of seasons.

The pitching is in pretty good shape, relatively speaking. Lowry and Cain are locked up. Sanchez is fostering hopes he can fill a rotation slot soon. Hopefully one of Hennessey and Correia will make an above-average fifth starter for cheap. Tim Lincecum is touted as being close to the majors, though if he does come up too soon I predict either the David Cone career path or the Tom Gordon career path. There are never guarantees with young pitching, but the Giants are in better shape than the average team.

The lineup is almost certain to be an unqualified mess, though. Randy Winn is in his early-30s, which makes him the only position player worth counting on past next season. The only position player worth counting on past next season. The only position player...I mean, seriously? And it isn't as if Winn is an All-Star who is guaranteed to hold his current level of performance into his mid-30s.

Kevin Frandsen is the heir apparent to something, but he doesn't look ready for a starting role at all. Maybe one of Travis Ishikawa/Nate Schierholtz/Eddy Martinez-Esteve is ready in 2008. Maybe two. Heck, maybe all three. But what does ready imply? Are we talking Joe Mauer-ready (ready to step in and be at least average for his position right away), or are we talking Lance Niekro-ready (ready to step in and not completely embarrass himself)? Considering the various flaws and wrinkles in the aforementioned prospects, it would almost certainly be the latter.

The free agent market will be mostly bare, and unless a team has $180 million to build a team, relying exclusively on free agents is a horrible way to build a team.

You know all of this already. Perhaps you've been dwelling on it, or maybe you've pushed it to the dark recesses of your brain. Like when you were six and pulled the wings off a dragonfly. Remember that? Remember? Liar. Regardless, we're contending this year, so the time to start the thumb-sucking is in November.

But sweet Rarnaby Budge, I would have liked the Giants to have somehow ended up with Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez. That's not a condemnation of Sabean's inability to make the same deal with the Reds. I can picture 28 GMs hearing the news of the deal, and muttering under their breath that they could have beat the Nationals' offer. Still, that would have been 25% of the lineup figured out for the next two years, at least. Add in Winn, and hope for the development of just one of Frandsen/Scheirholtz/Martinez-Esteve/Ishikawa, and half of the lineup would have appeared settled. With that penciled in a team could feel comfortable attacking the free agent market, not panicked.

Again, it's unfair to scream that Sabean should have snatched Kearns and Lopez up, because it's unclear if he could have. But I wish he could have, and when I see a trade like this go down it makes me wonder what the Giants' plan is for 2007 and 2008.

Comment starter: Do you think there is a plan?