"The Giants have even let it be known that Tim Lincecum, their No. 1 pick in 2006, can be had for a quality bat" -- from Fox Sports. What is this? General manager Brian Sabean can't be serious. This would be an absolute travesty. Lincecum is a star. He is one of those pitchers that you're excited to watch when he is on the mound. Please tell me this is a joke. I thought Matt Cain and Lincecum were untouchable?
-- Ray S., Reno, Nev.
I wish I could dismiss this as pure fiction. But this rumor was floated by Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News, one of the nation's most respected baseball writers. He probably heard this from a well-placed baseball official. A month ago, Sabean replied "I would think so" when asked whether Cain and Lincecum were players the Giants absolutely would not trade. But teams change strategies constantly, and one thing that hasn't changed is the Giants' desperate need for competent, on-the-rise position players. I don't believe the Giants will actively shop Lincecum, but I do think they'll see what they could get for him. I empathize with Ray: I'd pay to watch Lincecum pitch, and I think that the Giants' starting rotation would cease to be a strength if either Cain or Lincecum departed.
On another subject, Giants fans -- at least those I've heard from -- seem to be evenly divided on the subject of signing Alex Rodriguez. Here's a sampling of the sentiment:
Maybe I am in the minority, but I am not crazy to sign A-Rod. Don't get me wrong; he is the best hitter in the game. But, if the Giants commit all that money, how do they keep some of their younger stars when that time comes, and who can they afford to get to bat around him?
-- Robert, Merced, Calif.
Not one man, not even A-Rod alone, can carry a team to a World Series championship. Yes, it would be nice to have him in the lineup, but A-Rod cannot solve all of our problems. Plus, can we even afford him? Sure, we have some money from letting Barry Bonds go, but, even then, there is no way we can afford an All-Star like Alex. Anyways, winning a championship is a team effort. ... It takes 25 guys, not one, to get that ring.
--Ian B., Santa Rosa, Calif.
Isn't the Giants' main objective to fill seats when they play? With that said, wouldn't signing A-Rod accomplish this? He's a megastar, a home run hitter, and he's pursuing a record that was set by his predecessor (Bonds). It sounds like an easy formula for financial success.
-- Alan A., San Francisco
Bring in A-Rod! It's what the fans of San Francisco want to see. The average Joe will drop 10 percent of his paycheck to see a megastar as opposed to Minor League prospects. Give us what we want! We're the ones filling the stands!
-- Jonathan M., Hilo, Hawaii
Personally, I'd like to see the Giants try their hand at building a ballclub and an organization rather than furnishing another throne for a self-absorbed star.
Do the Giants have any interest in Geoff Jenkins? He hits left-handed and has a great arm in left field. He plays above-average defense and has hit 20 or more home runs in seven of his 10 Major League seasons. He wants more money than he's probably worth, but I'm thinking he might lower his asking price to return to the West Coast.
-- Mark K., Madison, Wisc.
Jenkins' bat might intrigue the Giants, but they really don't need more corner outfielders. He'll also turn 34 next season, although that sort of thing hasn't stopped them in the past. If he's still available late in the free agency season, the Giants might consider him for depth.
Do you think that the Giants can sign Eric Gagne to help shore up their bullpen? He could be Brian Wilson's setup man.
-- Chris H., Gilroy, Calif.
Gagne also could assume all or part of the closer's role while Wilson eases into the job full-time. I expect the Giants to explore the possibility of signing Gagne, unless his salary demands are exorbitant.
When I look at this team filled with promising pitching but a void elsewhere, I think of the Braves entering the '90s. The pitching they started developing in the late '80s matured when the rest of the team caught up. They became good and stayed that way. I say don't mess up the core of youthful pitching and be patient for one more year.
-- Dave H., Glendale, Ariz.
A friend of mine recently joked, "Patience is a great thing. How soon can I get some?" The Giants have more pitching than patience, which explains why, as you've probably heard, that they'd like to trade a hurler or two (or three) to fill position-player needs.
Have a question about the Giants?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Giants beat reporter Chris Haft for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
Assuming that Pedro Feliz leaves in free agency, Mike Lowell stays with the Red Sox (or goes to the Phillies or Dodgers) and A-Rod follows the money tree, who would you speculate as being a good fit for the Giants at third base?
-- Mike C., Kelseyville, Calif.
The Giants probably would have to fill the spot with a trade, although Eric Hinske (who hasn't fulfilled his 2002 AL Rookie of the Year potential) is a free agent and arbitration-eligible Morgan Ensberg also could be one if San Diego doesn't tender him a contract. I receive almost as many e-mails about Miguel Cabrera as I do about A-Rod, but Florida might want Cain and Lincecum for him. Toronto's Troy Glaus could be available, but he's due to earn $12.75 million next season and has a player option for $11.25 million in 2009. Besides, he has the steroid cloud hanging over him. Tampa Bay's Akinori Iwamura, Colorado's Ian Stewart, Houston's Ty Wigginton and Texas' Travis Metcalf have been mentioned as potential trade targets. Finally, there's a handful of proven third basemen trying to overcome injuries, such as Arizona's Chad Tracy (right knee), the White Sox's Joe Crede (back) and Oakland's Eric Chavez (back).
What is the status of Erick Threets? He seems to have all the right tools but just needs to get more comfortable on a Major League mound. Any chance of him making the Opening Day roster next year?
-- Joe B., Livermore, Calif.
As you suggested, Threets needs more consistency but definitely has a shot to be with the '08 Giants. Sharpening his skills for Hermosillo in the Mexican Pacific League, Threets has posted a 1-2 record with a 2.13 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings spanning 11 appearances. He also has walked six, reflecting his questionable control.
I'm tired of reading comments from fans saying that the Giants should trade their young pitchers for offense. Furthermore, it seems like everyone thinks they would do a better job than Sabean. Well, if it was such an easy job, then why are they sitting at home in front of their computer screens and eating cheese puffs?
-- Jon C., Syracuse, N.Y.
Avoid cheese puffs. They do nothing for the baseball-cognitive portions of the brain. That's why Sabean has popcorn sent to his suite before each home game.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.