I grew up in San Francisco and remember how Willie Mays' skills faded when he reached his early 40s. It was sad to see this great player have those problems. Now, it's his godson Barry Bonds struggling at age 42. Will the Giants sign him for 2007? -- B. T., San Francisco
Bonds is struggling like never before. Wear, tear, stress, age -- all the signposts are there that the slugger is on his last legs, his last knees. It happens to all ballplayers, and Bonds should consider himself lucky he has lasted more than 20 years in the Major Leagues.
His hitting mechanics are off kilter, and he dearly misses his father's advice. Bonds is only an average player now, intimidating to reporters but not pitchers. Next year? The Giants will determine in the offseason whether to sign Bonds for 2007.
Why is Moises Alou not on the disabled list? Why is it the last couple of years that general manager Brian Sabean has populated the Giants with veterans and role players? -- C. E.
The Giants hoped to squeeze every last ounce of talent out of their older players, but to Sabean's dismay, injuries -- especially to Alou -- and lack of consistent offense equaled a .500 team, far below expectations. Their current rut seems a prelude to big changes next year and a much-needed influx of younger players.
How does Sabean make such great trades -- the latest being Jeremy Accardo for Vinnie Chulk with Shea Hillenbrand as a throw-in? -- Gary G., Irvine, Calif.
Very funny. But that's why baseball is interesting: You never know what will happen. Chulk has been effective so far, but we suspect Hillenbrand's offense will perk up during the Giants' homestand. It's badly needed.
With the struggles of Benitez to close games and Accardo's trade to Toronto, why not put Brad Hennessey into the closer role? The guy has been the most consistent pitcher on the club this year. -- Devin S., Los Altos, Calif.
You'd figure the Giants' patience is wearing thin on Benitez, but Hennessey has proved invaluable in his emergency role as a spot starter and reliever.
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Hennessey may be a fifth starter by September, and he is viewed as a likely rotation man in 2007.
Brian Wilson is a closer candidate and may eventually unseat Benitez.
How likely is it that manager Felipe Alou will bring up Merkin Valdez to be the closer? -- Alex F., San Francisco
It won't happen. Valdez breaks the speed limit with his 97 mph fastball, but though he's struck out 37 batters this season at Triple-A Fresno, he also has walked 30 over 37 innings. He's saved five games, but his ERA is an uncomfortable 6.27.
On the other hand, literally, lefty reliever Jack Taschner has saved 12 games and sports a 3.74 ERA. Taschner has struck out 59 batters and walked only 14. The Giants love his competitiveness and arm.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.