Mailbag: Winn-win situation for Giants?

Mailbag: Winn-win situation for Giants?

I agree that manager Bruce Bochy had to shake up the lineup, but moving Barry Bonds back to cleanup is not the best option. Bochy should bench Randy Winn and start Todd Linden in right field and bat Linden second, ahead of Bonds, and bat Omar Vizquel eighth. This way you can have a hitter ahead of Bonds who has more pop than Omar (and probably Rich Aurilia) and remove the weakest bat (and worst signing) in Winn from the lineup. Winn will never live up to the contract Brian Sabean foolishly gave him for one uncharacteristically good month, and the sooner Linden gets in the starting lineup, the better.
-- Steven S., South San Francisco

The mailbag was on hiatus for a few weeks, so I've had extra time to get really grouchy. First of all, although the precedent probably exists for a manager to bench an established regular after the season's first 10 games, it's virtually unheard of, so don't expect a Linden-for-Winn switch right away. I have written that Linden appears poised to play himself into a more prominent role, so I'll acknowledge that what you suggested is a possibility. But I can't stand second-guessing, and that's what you're doing by criticizing the Winn signing.

Given the finish Winn had in 2005 -- and by the way, it was two months, not one -- there's not a general manager in the Majors who wouldn't have tried to retain him. Winn's batting only .194, but he's using the whole field and trying to bunt for hits, so at least he's thinking up there. Again, Linden might ultimately eclipse Winn in right field, but if that happens, it'll be because he earned it, not because of some knee-jerk judgment. There, I'm done being grouchy.

Out of the players added to the Giants roster over the offseason, who will have the most immediate impact for the club and what would you project their stats to look like by season's end?
-- Tim K., Weed, Calif.

Hey, I went to basketball camp at College of the Siskiyous near Weed. Was that you who blocked my weak jump shot? Seriously, there are several guys to choose from -- Aurilia, Bengie Molina, Barry Zito, Russ Ortiz and Ryan Klesko, who I've mentioned as a "sleeper" pick to have a productive season. But, taking your question literally, I'd say that being the leadoff hitter gives Dave Roberts the best chance to have the most immediate impact among the newcomers. I envision him finishing with about a .270 average, a .365 on-base percentage and around 40 steals.

Do you think the Giants would consider trading Armando Benitez or just get rid of him and go after Brad Lidge or Derrick Turnbow for the closer job?
-- Darrin D., Turlock, Calif.

I'd be shocked if the Giants didn't inquire about Lidge's and/or Turnbow's availability. But the Brewers love Turnbow as their setup man. Wouldn't you, now that he's throwing that 98-mph fastball over the plate? As for Lidge, the Astros reportedly don't want to trade him, which means they'll try to drive the price skyward (in terms of players) for him. The Giants don't have enough resources to jump into that card game. Benitez has been a little shaky, but the bottom line so far is that he's 2-for-2 in converting save opportunities. I must say that I'm curious to see how he'll perform when he's entrusted with a one-run lead.

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Who is the Giants' hitting coach this year? Why is everyone constantly swinging at the first pitch?
-- Robert N., San Mateo, Calif.

Joe Lefebvre is in his fifth season as hitting instructor. Willie Upshaw has assisted him for three seasons. You probably sent your e-mail after watching the Giants flail away at Greg Maddux last Wednesday night. Bear in mind that Maddux makes almost every team do this. That's why he has won 334 games. With Roberts batting leadoff and Vizquel hitting second, the Giants have two players at the top of the order who actually work counts. So they're actually a little better in this regard, although I can assure you that Pedro Feliz will continue to drive you nuts.

Why was Mark Sweeney involved in the Opening Day festivities if he is not on the active roster?
-- Jacob P., Sacramento

Sweeney was on the disabled list, so introducing him on Opening Day was entirely within bounds. You might remember that Bonds was front and center on Opening Day 2005 while he was on the DL.

I noticed that Matt Morris wasn't wearing his usual No. 35, but instead No. 22. By chance is this to honor his former teammate and good friend Mike Matheny?
-- Tyler S., Penngrove, CA

No, it's to honor Hal Lanier. OK, I'll stop being a smart-aleck! Yes, Tyler, Morris is indeed paying homage to the distinguished Mr. Matheny. It's a classy tribute.

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.