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Article:SF Giants: Let the Off-season Begin

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The World Series is now over as the Phillies have been crowned baseball's champion of the 2008 season and the off-season is officially underway. With the Giants in full rebuilding mode and with Bengie Molina and Randy Winn both entering the final year of their contracts, they could be amongst the players the Giants have on the trading block as the off-season gets going. The team also has two young players in Pablo Sandoval and Nate Schierholtz who have proven all they can at the minor league level and could provide adequate replacements for the two veterans. According to Rotowire, the New York Mets have had internal discussions about pursuing Bengie Molina. The Mets showed some interest in Molina before the trade deadline over the summer, but talks never got too serious, but at that time, the Giants didn't know quite what they had in Sandoval. They also have 2008 top pick Buster Posey a year or 2 away from being in the mix, so Molina doesn't have much of a future with this team. The names that rotowire discussed as possible targets for the Giants were 22 year-old lefty Jonathon Niese and 23 year-old third basemen, David Murphy. Both could fit needs for the Giants. Niese is ready for the big leagues now (5-1, 3.40 era in 7 starts in AAA) and could allow the Giants to shop Noah Lowry or Jonathan Sanchez for a power bat. Murphy had a solid overall season and including a .313 average with 2 home runs and 17 RBI in 131 at-bats with the Mets. Neither are premiere-type prospects, but both should be serviceable major leaguers with some upside. Molina is still very valuable to this team though and shouldn't be given away. He has worked wonders with the young pitchers on this staff and with more on the way next year, it would be nice to have that veteran presence that Molina brings behind the plate.

There has also been a lot of talk around the bay area of Matt Cain possibly being on the trade block. Cain hasn't quite advanced the way the Giants have hoped yet and his been pretty inconsistent over the last couple years despite his solid era and strikeout numbers. Of course the Giants won't part with Cain unless they land an all-star caliber young hitter at the same level as an Evan Longoria or Ryan Zimmerman, but I still think dealing him would be risky. The Giants are still unsure of Noah Lowry's health at this point, as well as Barry Zito's effectiveness. They do have young pitchers in the minor leagues that are very close which is the reason why they will even entertain offers of Cain, but I still have a hard time visualizing any deal actually being made that involves him. One guy that comes to mind as someone who I would be willing to deal Cain for though is Matt Holliday, and the Rockies are making him available this winter. It's not going to happen because you just don't see superstars being traded within their division, but a Cain/Winn for Holliday deal could actually make some sense for both teams. Matt Cain has always pitched brilliantly at Coors Field and Clint Hurdle and the Rockies front office have always gushed over the Giants 24-year old righty as he has given their team problems over the years. Matt Holliday would provide the Giants with a legit replacement of Barry Bonds who they could build a lineup around. Never going to happen, but it would be an interesting proposal.

Note: Former Marlins' first baseman, Mike Jacobs, a bat the Giants could have used and a name discussed as a possible target for the Giants, was dealt to the Royals on Tuesday for Leo Nunez, a young reliever. Leo Nunez is a nice young hard throwing righty, but I think the Giants could have made a better offer than that and while Mike Jacobs isn't the best hitter out there, he could give you Adam Dunn type numbers for a fraction of the price and is just now entering his prime.

The Giants Baseball Blog-

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