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Inbox: Does Affeldt have All-Star shot?

Inbox: Does Affeldt have All-Star shot?

I know this usually doesn't happen with a setup man, but what do you think are the chances of Jeremy Affeldt making the All-Star team? He leads the league in holds and has a sub-2.00 ERA.
-- Michael E., Laguna Hills, Calif.

Affeldt has no chance -- not because he's undeserving, but because setup relievers are so rarely selected to be All-Stars. If setup relievers had their own Cy Young Award, Affeldt would be a leading contender. He has proven to be an excellent free-agent acquisition. By the way, it's not unprecedented for setup men to achieve All-Star status. Previous honorees include Mike Stanton of the Yankees (2001), Brendan Donnelly of the Angels (2003), Hideki Okajima of the Red Sox (2007) and Carlos Marmol of the Cubs (2008). With so many National League starters and closers having strong first halves, however, I'm guessing that Affeldt will get shut out.

Extend Bengie Molina's contract? Are you crazy? Trade him before the deadline while he has value. This is the mistake the Giants make over and over again. General manager Brian Sabean has squandered countless prospects by retaining has-been veterans until they leave as free agents or have no value. Pablo Sandoval can catch until Buster Posey is ready.
-- Steve B., San Jose

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I'm not going to belabor why I believe the Giants would be wise to extend Molina's contract. I'll briefly restate that they might as well retain him until Posey's fully prepared for big league competition. To strengthen my case, I'll call upon my first witness: Dave Righetti, pitching coach of the San Francisco Giants. Recently, while I was quizzing Righetti about the starting rotation's effectiveness, he said without prompting, "To me, there's a common denominator in the whole deal, and that's Bengie. "He's not a rah-rah, get-in-your-face guy. He's a calming influence. In the three years he's been here, this thing has gotten better." By all means, if the Giants believe by the end of the season that Posey's ready and Molina will be difficult or impossible to re-sign, make the change. Otherwise, stick with a successful formula.

While I'd like the Giants to hold on to Matt Cain, do you think they will be forced to trade him, not only because they need bats but also because of Barry Zito's contract? With Tim Lincecum in line for a large extension in the future and Zito's huge contract already on the books, would the Giants be willing to pay big bucks for three pitchers?
-- Tre L., San Mateo, Calif.

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Sure, particularly if Lincecum and Cain continue to sustain their Cy Young Award-quality skill. Granted, Zito's contract runs through 2013, so the Giants might have to engage in creative financing to keep all three. Or they might have to trade Zito -- who's owed $18.5 million per year in 2010-11, $19 million in 2012 and $20 million in 2013 -- and eat part of the contract. But they don't have to worry about Cain for a couple of years. He's locked up for 2010 at $4.25 million with a $6.25 club option for 2011, which the Giants surely will pick up if he performs anywhere close to his current level. Lincecum could get expensive, since he'll likely be arbitration-eligible after this season. But if the Giants begin incorporating younger position players such as Posey into the lineup, that could create enough payroll relief to accommodate the pitchers.

Are the Giants thinking about bringing up John Bowker anytime soon? He has been tearing it up at Triple-A Fresno, and since he can play first, I'm surprised his name seems out of the picture. I was disappointed when the Giants sent him down last year. They seem to tolerate offensive slumps in some guys and not at all in others.
-- Jamie W., Sacramento, Calif.

Giants management is well aware of Bowker's prowess at Fresno. But he's unlikely to return to San Francisco until the organization finds a way to play him every day. That doesn't appear imminent.

I faithfully watch the Giants every night on my laptop 3,500 miles away. Late nights! With the Giants struggling for run support, and the A's having a hard time, what are the chances that the Giants make a play to steal Matt Holliday from the other side of the bay come July? Any other possibilities for a potential bat? I can't keep staying up wondering if the Giants can hold a lead.
-- Tom M., Orlando, Fla.

My hunch is that the A's will trade Holliday, but that they would want a package of prospects from the Giants that Sabean would resist yielding. Other names will be thrown around in various rumors as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches, such as Adam Dunn, Jermaine Dye, Jose Guillen and Mark Teahen. By the way, developing a sleep disorder over this stuff isn't worth it. Get some rest!

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

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