Tuesday, July 31, 2007

From San Francisco Chronicle

This is a portion of an article on the SF Chronicle website. It reiterates point I brought up last week in a blog entry regarding Giants outfielders:

In an interview last week, Sabean said he and manager Bruce Bochy hope to give more starts to younger players such as Lewis and Kevin Frandsen over the final two months of the season. If Sabean can clear more roster space by trading older position players, either today or during the August waiver trading season, he plans to promote more prospects so the team can evaluate them for 2008.

Dan Ortmeier, Clay Timpner and Nate Schierholtz, three outfielders at Triple-A Fresno, are swinging the bat well, with the latter two batting over .300, possibly earning them a look.

"I really believe we'll need to play some of our young people to evaluate them," Sabean said. "I have talked to Boch about that."

Sabean also offered more details on the Giants' reconstruction plan. For the first time, he acknowledged he might have to trade some of the young pitching the organization holds dear to acquire talented young position players who can complement the team's aging veterans as the Giants transit to a new era.

"We're going to be in a position where we have an opportunity to study and identify which positions we need to focus on, and we may have to cross that bridge in the winter," he said.

At the same time, Sabean acknowledged that young impact hitters are difficult to acquire, and he has a Plan B. If the team cannot engineer such deals, he is prepared to rip a page from the San Diego Padres' playbook: Have the Giants do the best they can offensively with the talent in hand and bolster the pitching.

"We will build around the pitching we have," he said. "If we have to make it stronger, we'll strengthen it. We've all learned from San Diego what pitching can do in this division. We're halfway there with what we have in hand without any moves we have to make to acquire position players.

"That's the road we might have to take if we're going to have a different lineup that is challenged on the power side or on the run-scoring side. Why not make our strength even stronger?"

That comment might dishearten fans hoping for a quick fix that could turn the Giants into a young, exciting, speedy, powerful team. But as any rebuilding team can attest, there are no quick fixes without spending a gazillion dollars on free agents - a path the Giants swear they plan to abandon.

Patience might be in order as the Giants see whether such minor-league outfielders as Ortmeier, Schierholtz and Timpner can cut it in the majors. Behind them is right fielder John Bowker, who is posting impressive numbers for Double-A Connecticut.

Bowker is batting .296 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs playing in a pitcher's park and a pitcher's league. On the other hand, he has 81 strikeouts in 395 at-bats.

Behind Bowker are Class A shortstop Brian Bocock and 17-year-old third baseman Angel Villalona, both appearing in distant dreams.

Ahead of them all is Lewis, the next best hope for the Giants to break their long drought of home-grown position players.

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