"When you're challenged to score three or four runs a game, it's very difficult for the starter not to try to do more than his own. I think that's one of the reasons you saw some of our starters have losing records. And ... we didn't finish off by the time we got to the closer."While the Giants are excited about Sandoval, who hit .345 in 41 games, Emmanuel Burriss, the presumptive shortstop for 2009, and Fred Lewis, who emerged as the primary left fielder in his first full Major League season, they can't be expected to improve automatically. The significance of the Giants' one-victory improvement this year to a 72-90 finish, Sabean said, is something "we're going to find out next year, because there's expectation now on these kids that have performed." Right fielder Randy Winn, who led the Giants in multiple categories, including games (155), batting average (.306) and stolen bases (25), observed that improvement from this season's top rookies can't be assumed. "There have definitely been some bright spots this year," Winn said. "But as a guy who's been around and seen this before, for the young guys who came up this year, it's about [continuing] to get better. I've seen guys come up and play well for a month or the second half of a season" -- and that's it. Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who accompanied Sabean to Monday's news conference, expressed confidence that the club's youngsters will continue to blossom.
"They're not just happy to be here," Bochy said. "I like the way they play the game and play to win. Their approach to the game is not just trying to survive and stay in the Major Leagues."Other issues Sabean addressed included: Second base. He said the organization is "pulling for" Kevin Frandsen to overcome his injured left Achilles and claim the spot. But Sabean indicated that Frandsen must prove he can hit proficiently. "We're going to need as much offense as we can get from every position," Sabean said. "And as Boch can tell you, [Frandsen's] probably limited to a couple of places in the [batting] order." Eugenio Velez remains a possibility, as Sabean praised his defensive improvement and his offensive surge which followed. The coaching staff. Everybody already is under contract through 2009, except for first-base coach Roberto Kelly and third-base coach Tim Flannery, who will be re-signed. Nate Schierholtz, whose path to a regular role in the outfield appears blocked. "I don't think I know enough about him," Sabean said, referring to Schierholtz's 19 games for the Giants this year. Although Schierholtz is likely to make the team because he's out of Minor League options and has nothing to prove at Triple-A, Sabean added: "He's going to have to have a good Spring Training and we're going to have to figure out what's in our best interest -- where he plays and how much." The possibility of re-signing Rich Aurilia, who hit .283 and can play every infield position. Sabean said the Giants might explore re-signing the popular veteran, although "that decision would come later than sooner" in the offseason. Sabean believed that several teams will pursue Aurilia, who he called a "tremendous asset" to plug holes.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.