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The first road trip of the 2009 season couldn't have gone much worse for the Giants. They got swept in San Diego by a surprising Padres squad that is playing way better than they were expected to. Then they traveled an hour north to LA for three and things didn't get any better.
The defense and starting pitching were both horrendous throughout the trip. Barry Zito threw better than his line showed in Thursday's finale at Dodger Stadium. Once again, defensive blunders put the Giants in an early deficit, and the offense couldn't make up for it. And it was  another misplay by Fred Lewis in left-field that did Zito in. Lewis had a terrible road trip defensively, misplaying various fly-balls and costing the Giants numerous runs. Those mistakes rest solely on Fred Lewis, no excuses. I'm not saying Lewis was the reason the Giants lost the games, because that's not entirely the case. In order to win ballgames, you need to score runs, and the Giants really struggled to do that on the trip. The team scored only 14 runs in the 6 games down south, and only 8 runs in the final 4 games. They did, however, get two key bats going in the finale in LA, as Emmanuel Burris (.192 avg) and Pablo Sandoval (.212 avg) each had multi-hit games and Sandoval drove in his first run of 2009. Those guys both had terrific springs, and it's been a bit of a surprise that both have struggled so much out of the gate. Sandoval has been especially disappointing because of the expectations he had coming into the season. Everybody knew that he'd have his growing pains on the defensive side of his game, so the fact that he's not hitting like expected is even more magnified. Besides those two youngsters, the Giants need to start getting some production out of Edgar Renteria. The free-agent signee has looked slow, and almost disinterested at times on the field so far. I hate to even begin comparing him to other free agent busts so early, but his play and body language are reminding me eerily of the way Edgardo Alfonzo carried himself during his tenure here. I am still holding out hope that Renteria will end up doing OK this year, but I'm starting to see what all the fuss was about last year in Detroit.
One of the guys who has been carrying his load has been Aaron Rowand. The Giants center fielder and top-paid positional player has looked much more like he did in 2007 than he did in '08, through the first 10 days of the season. In fact, he's played so well that other teams might even have interest in taking him off of the Giants hands if he can keep it up. There was a rumor floating around on the net the other day that said the Giants are actively shopping Rowand and are willing to eat a portion of his $48-million he's still owed over the next 4 seasons. Whether it has any merit or not, it's got me thinking. I don't really expect anything to happen, but I think it would be a great move if Sabean could somehow get out from under the Rowand contract, even if he has to pay a portion of it. I'm pretty confident that Rowand won't be a starting caliber player in 3 years, so that alone should be reason enough for Sabean to exercises every potential option with A-Row... Two teams that had interest in Rowand when he was a free agent in 2007 were the Yankees and White Sox a  nd both of those teams may still have some interest in him under the right circumstances. If Rowand were dealt, it would open up a variety of possibilities for the Giants. It opens up another outfield spot and enables the Giants to give Nate Schierholtz his shot, finally. It would also allow them the option to re-sign Randy Winn, who is a free agent after the season and has been one of the teams most valuable players since he arrived from Seattle in 2005. Winn is extremely underrated throughout baseball and I think the Giants want to keep him. He plays the heck out of right-field at AT&T Park, which is one of the tougher fields in all of baseball, and he's a catalyst on offense, hitting around .300 yearly and getting on base consistently and steals bases at a high percentage. It will be tough to re-sign Winn to a multi-year deal though with Rowand in tow. Again, I don't expect anything to happen and if it did, it probably wouldn't be anytime soon (maybe in July if the Giants are out of it), but it's definitely worth keeping an eye on, especially if Rowand keeps hitting.
Trevor Cole The Giants Baseball Blog