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Back at the beginning of the offseason, the huge fear was that the Giants were going to give Mike Lowell a four-year contract for too much money. Instead, the team shored up that gaping hole in center field, and they signed Aaron Rowand to a five-year contract for too much money. Maybe it's a market-value contract, but it's too much money for a team that didn't exactly need a center fielder.

Would you have preferred the following alternate reality?

LF - Roberts/R. Davis/Fred Lewis
2B - Durham/Frandsen
CF - Winn
3B - Mike Lowell (4/$48M)
RF - Schierholtz
C - Molina
1B - Whatever
SS - Vizquel
Positives:
  • Schierholtz gets regular time. That's a big deal, and the worst part about the Rowand signing.
  • Winn gets to prove he's a capable center fielder, which would boost his trade value if the Giants somehow shock the world by falling out of contention.
  • Mike Lowell has more power than Rowand and he plays a position that, oh, I don't know, the Giants actually needed to fill.
Negatives:
  • Lowell is three years older than Rowand, and derives much of his value from his "old man skills" -- patience and power. According to Bill James, those kinds of players age worse than players who are valuable because of superior athleticism. It would have taken a fourth year to get Lowell away from Boston (if it was ever possible), and that would have been a disaster by 2011.
  • The Giants' defense is better with Rowand in center than it would have been with Winn.
  • With eight center fielders, the Giants are only two stamps away from a free center fielder with their Center Fielder Club Rewards Card. Lowell wouldn't have helped the cause.
Slow times -- you might as well dive in to a pile of hypotheticals. Would you have preferred to overpay Rowand or Lowell? The correct answer is "no", but I'd choose Lowell and worry about the contract in 2011. In the meantime, the young outfielders in the system would get more at-bats, and that should have been the goal of the offseason.