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Giants still favorites to sign Pablo Sandoval

That's the scuttlebutt according to two leading rumormongers, anyway.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

I don't wanna have arguments about Joaquin Arias vs. Matt Duffy. I don't wanna listen people debate the merits of Adam Duvall's defense. I don't wanna write a reaction to a Casey McGehee trade. I want Pablo Sandoval. I'm spoiled and I like him and I buy merchandise. Who's with me?

Note: We still reserve the right to complain when the Giants can't afford to sign good players in three, four, or five years. Best of both worlds.

There are two folks at ESPN who are relaying some positive signs that the Giants are in the lead for Sandoval's service, too. First, Buster Olney is talking to some folks who think other teams are moving on to plans B and C at third base (subscription required):

But rival officials are watching the Sandoval bidding and reading the tea leaves, and are increasingly having difficulty envisioning him signing elsewhere. "I think that’s a deal that happens early," said one evaluator, predicting a reunion within the next 10 days.

Elsewhere, Jerry Crasnick offers his yearly roundup of executives and scouts, whom he grills on the hot offseason topics. Their conclusion? Sandoval isn't going anywhere.

Will the San Francisco Giants re-sign Pablo Sandoval? If not, where does he land?

Responses: Yes 25; no 3. Of the voters who think Sandoval will leave San Francisco or are on the fence, every one mentioned Boston as a prime possibility.

Yes, the Red Sox are being jerks about this, but I'm still worried about the mystery team. They're in your bushes right now, you know.

The Giants can afford to pay a familiarity premium. Yes, the Internet and talk radio barbs will be vicious when Sandoval starts to struggle, but I also know what the park sounds like when Tim Lincecum comes into a 10-1 blowout after three years of subpar pitching. The place goes nuts. He was one of the most popular attractions at the parade. People still love him. The people who share Giantsy things on Facebook, that is, not the cynics who angrily call into KNBR or mill about sites like this. Those people will still buy Panda hats. Those people will still appreciate the core sticking together, even when things stop being polite and start getting real.

That's worth something. And the Giants know it. I'm terrified of that fourth, fifth, or sixth year, too, but I also know a) the team is much worse without him next year and b) Sandoval's the first homegrown All-Star since Matt Williams, and he was the seedling who made the 2008 season one with a smidgen of hope. I don't want to let that go.

Also, I wasn't that upset about the last Lincecum contract, which is just killing the Giants this offseason, so you know that I'm on the sentimentalist side of things. Feel free to ignore me. But Sandoval is the Giants' priority, and he's mine, too. Several of the smart folks running the other teams apparently agree.